Police, students start dialogue

Lisa Hlavinka

Kent Police Capt. Michelle Lee discusses police policy with senior marketing major Clinton Dugon, member of the Delta Upsilon fraternity at the Undergraduate Student Senate meeting in the Student Center yesterday evening. DANIEL OWEN | DAILY KENT STATER

Credit: DKS Editors

WATCH part of the community forum

Although several Kent City Council members attended the open community forum last night, most of the conversation involved Kent State students and Kent City Police.

The meeting, put on by the Daily Kent Stater and USS, opened with questions regarding student and police relations, specifically about recent reports of overly aggressive police in Kent.

Chief Jim Peach began by saying that students have been “better behaved than in the past,” but he feels that police act aggressively when students act aggressively.

“Quite frankly, we don’t see the numbers as in the past, but we see the cases are more serious,” he said. “And because of that we’ve had officers injured for extended periods of time.”

Several students representing fraternities attended.

John Wetmore of Sigma Chi expressed concerns that the police were not treating students fairly compared to permanent residents. He said police are willing to give noise ordinances to students, but when asked to help students, they are less responsive.

“Most people would agree students at Kent fear the police,” Wetmore said.

He also said he would like to see the police department be more willing to help control parties when asked by fraternities.

Both Peach and Captain Michelle Lee assured that there was no bias against students, but that if “certain behaviors were not acceptable to citizens,” then the police must act on it.

Peach said that he has heard similar complaints before, but has yet to see any merit to them.

Lee and Ward 5 Councilman Edward Bargerstock suggested students get to know police during the day, when police handle fewer complaints and are more likely to be receptive.

Peach noted that many Kent police officers have graduated from Kent, and 80 percent of the officers have college degrees. He also said only one-third of people arrested on weekends are Kent State students.

Contact public affairs reporter Lisa Hlavinka at [email protected].