University police up security for Homecoming weekend

Angie Prosen

Homecoming is a time when students, university organizations and members of the community gather at Dix Stadium with alumni, family and friends to support the Golden Flashes and celebrate the start of a new school year.

But two colors that remain prominent at the university – blue and gold – will not only be on the chests of the Kent State football team.

The Kent State Police Department will try to be equally as mighty a force, making security one of its top priorities this weekend.

Like any event in Kent that draws a large amount of people, law enforcement is necessary to handle any security, traffic or medical concern that may arise.

Those participating in Homecoming festivities this year can expect to see plenty of police officers in case an emergency or problem should emerge.

“Homecoming is a special time for all of us on campus,” Police Chief John Peach said. “We want to make sure that police officers are easily visible and available to help.”

With more people returning to campus this weekend, events will be available to the public and more security is needed to create a safe environment for those participating in the excitement, Peach said.

“Visitors are only here for a short time, and we want to make it as safe and enjoyable as possible,” he said.

Homecoming security is a serious issue, Peach said, and police plan with Homecoming committees and businesses weeks in advance to find out how much security will be needed in certain areas.

“Staff is well informed ahead of time what their schedule will be,” Peach said.

Police officers will be available on bikes and on foot patrol during the Homecoming events for the evening, making it easier to integrate with the people attending the game.

However, crime during the event is not the police department’s primary concern, as much as their attention goes to student party-goers.

“Homecoming is one of the few times in the year that we don’t have to worry about problems related to crime,” Peach said. “What we tend to focus on as one of our biggest problems is drinking. Students have plenty of time to ‘prep’ themselves in a variety of ways, and we are prepared for that.”

Crime Prevention Officer Alice Ickes recommends taking careful party precautions.

“Not becoming intoxicated and keeping your senses alert is imperative,” she said. “Those hosting a party should provide some sort of food for guests and not serve alcohol to those already intoxicated or underage. Those who have been drinking should avoid driving at all costs.”

Although Ickes concerns herself with on and off campus partying, she said she worries more that students are partying too hard before the game and never getting to experience what their university has to offer them.

“Most students never make it out of their homes,” Ickes said. “I often wish that students would come out and see just what this university has to offer them, and what a fun weekend this can be at the university.”

Police will be available any time for any concern throughout the weekend, Peach said, but it is also important that students remember some safety precautions to keep themselves safe and avoid possible harm or injury.

“There are going to be a lot of people on campus not of the community,” he said. “Students should walk in well-lit areas and with other people when possible, especially when they’ve been drinking. Sometimes, the best solution to a possible incident is just using your common sense.”

While Homecoming is an exciting time for university staff, alumni and students, it’s also a special time for the Kent State Police Department, Peach and Ickes said.

The university has been working hard to bring alumni together with students and staff to create a community atmosphere Kent State can be proud of, Peach said.

“This is the most important part of Homecoming, and I don’t think that the university is quite there yet, but we’re working hard at it, and it gets better every year,” he said.

Contact safety reporter Angie Prosen at [email protected]