Kent State police training ensures safety on campus

By Elizabeth Randolph and Raymond Allan

Universities across the nation are required to create annual reports as part of the Jeanne Clery Act.

Reports are posted on the universities’ public safety websites and are available in the respective police departments. According to these reports, Kent State is considered one of the safest campuses in Ohio with minimal crimes happening on campus.

The University of Cincinnati is considered one of the worst campuses in terms of security. This past summer, a man named Samuel Dubose was shot to death by former UC police officer Ray Tensing.

The case instantly made headlines as being one of the many instances of gun violence this year. Dubose, an unarmed black man, was killed after being pulled over for a missing license plate. According to the prosecuting attorney of Hamilton County, where UC is located, it was one of the first instances where security measures weren’t being handled in an appropriate manner.

According to the annual reports, Kent State is one of the safest campuses in Ohio with minimal crimes happening on and off campus.

Officer Tricia Knoles is the community resource officer for the Kent State police department. and has worked at Kent State since 2005.

Officer Tricia Knoles works at her desk. Photo by Elizabeth Randolph

Knoles said Kent State police officers go through numerous amounts of training before they can consider themselves members of the force.

“For four to six months, officers go through a field training program where they’re with another officer learning various areas,” Knoles said. “After the six months, they’re on their own but have a mentorship training in the next six months where they can ask questions of other officers. Once the year probation is done, they’re on their own.”

Knoles said the training Kent State officers receive differs from other schools because of the time they take to train.

“Most police have in-house training once every year,” she said. “We actually have one every month where we train half of our officers one day and the other half the next.”

Knoles said officers are being trained on various cases from domestic violence to sexual assault. She said that the training and mock scenarios KSUPD go through were executed in April 2014, when a student fired a shot outside of Bowman Hall.

“Everything that happened that day was completely by the book,” Knoles said. “Just a month before, we had a mock scenario for the exact situation.”

KSUPD works with many organizations on campus to raise awareness of safety at Kent State. Residential safety and security works closely with the police. Security aides patrol residence halls and are alerted if there’s any trouble on campus.

Assistant director Brian Hellwig hires about 50 students two to three times a year as campus security aides.

Brian Hellwig has been working at Kent State for more than 10 years. Photo by Elizabeth Randolph
Brian Hellwig has been working at Kent State for more than 10 years. Photo by Elizabeth Randolph

“Myself and my coordinator interview students who are interested in the job,” he said. “Security aides have to have a minimum of a 2.3 GPA to be considered.”

Hellwig said security aides go through a rigorous amount of training once they are hired for the position.

“They go through 100 hours of training where they work mostly in the field and are paired with another aide,” Hellwig said. “After the training, they are required to take a test to see if they know everything that is required to be an aide.”

Kent State police officers and security aides want to provide a safe environment for the Kent State community, which is something more and more students look for when choosing a school.

Junior nursing major Karyn Reynolds said that Kent State was the school where she felt safest when touring colleges in high school.

“I had looked at other schools like University of Cincinnati and Toledo and I didn’t feel safe on the campuses or the surrounding areas either,” Reynolds said. “When I went to Kent and downtown, they made it look nice and pleasing and never made me think twice about my safety.”

Karyn Reynolds is a nursing major at Kent State and feels completely safe on campus. Photo by Elizabeth Randolph.
Karyn Reynolds is a nursing major at Kent State and feels completely safe on campus. Photo by Elizabeth Randolph.

Knoles said that while she feels that the police dept. makes sure the Kent State community completely safe, she is aware that there’s always room for change.

“We’re always looking for improvement,” she said. “There’s no perfect police department and we can always improve. We are hoping to expand our outreach.”

Knoles said she wants to also use her role and training to inform and help as many people at Kent State.

“As a community resources manager, I want to reach every member of our community,” she said. “Students, faculty, staff, I want to reach everybody.”