Campus drug abuse arrests have been on the rise from 2002 to 2004, but Kent State police are not congratulating themselves quite yet.
“I wouldn’t say there’s a big drug craze sweeping the university,” said Lt. Carl Sweigert, campus investigations officer. “Things like this are cyclical. With each year there could be more drug abusers, there could be less.”
Drug abuse arrests cover all drugs including methamphetamines, over-the-counter drugs and prescription drug abuse; however, marijuana accounts for the majority of campus arrests.
“Occasionally, you’ll find drug violations that are related to someone being sick or someone mixing drugs deliberately,” said crime prevention officer Alice Ickes. “However, the most common violation we find is marijuana.”
Campus police attribute the number of arrests for the possession of marijuana to the layout of the campus.
“There are very few locations where people think they can go to smoke,” Sweigert said. “We know this campus, so it’s not as isolated as they may think.”
By using foot and bike patrols, campus police have been able to crack down on marijuana smoking on campus.
“These methods work because a lot of times, people aren’t looking for cops on bikes or foot so you can literally walk up to people passing around a joint,” Sweigert said.
Other than police patrols, resident assistants are also helping to crack down on drug abuse in the dorms.
“The RA staff is alert and catching the drug abuse earlier,” Ickes said.
Resident assistants are trained to spot marijuana. Police have also found a way to cut down on campus drug dealers.
“If we get information on a significant amount of drugs being dealt, we tend to be more proactive to remove that from the university,” Sweigert said. “We work very closely with the Portage County Drug Task Force to cut down on drug deals by occasionally having them come on campus to make deals with suspected dealers.”
While some officers remain optimistic about campus drug arrests, police still expect drug statistics to fluctuate over the next few years.
“The university is kind of like a reflection of the society around us,” Sweigert said. “If drug use is up in the country, then drug use may be up at the university.”
According to a national study from the Partnership for a Drug-Free America, 4.5 million teens, ages 12 to 17, report using prescription medications to get high, and 2.4 million report using cough medicine to get high.
With a national rise in prescription drug use among teens, campus police may have to find other ways to spot drug abuse on campus.
Contact city and courts reporter Sasha Parker at [email protected]