10 'Use of Force' Reports filed by Police from College Fest
Policy dictates officers can "only use force in a lawful and justifiable manner."
Check boxes next to phrases such as "Wrestling," "Balance Displacement" and "Take-Down" explain how police officers put an end to the College Fest riot last month near the Kent State University campus.
Officers with the Kent Police Department and Metro SWAT filed 10 "use of force" reports related to arrests and crowd dispersement during the massive block party on East College Avenue on April 28.
The reports offer scant details about what types of force was used. The reports apply primarily to two situations: having to use physical force in order to subdue someone and make an arrest; and when using crowd dispersal equipment — such as tear gas or "sting balls" — to break up the estimated 3,000 people who attended the annual block party.
The reports are required by Kent Police Department policy and are part of guidelines "that attempt to strike a reasonable balance between the values of protecting the lives of law enforcement officers and others, and deterring the abuse of authority," according to the department's policies and procedures manual.
You can read the individual reports, which were obtained by Kent Patch through a public records request and are attached to this article.
Kent Police Capt. Paul Canfield said when tear gas, sting balls and other crowd-control methods are used it's a command decision made in the field by a ranking officer.
"It’s not like officers are just randomly using this when they see fit," Canfield said.
Members of Metro SWAT filed five of the 10 use of force reports mostly pertaining to the use of tear gas and other similar equipment regarding the large crowd. The other five reports, filed by Kent Police, dealt with individual arrests.
Canfield said the crowd dispersal methods used included "Oleoresin Capsicum," also known as pepper spray, smoke canisters, tear gas and "sting balls," which make a loud bang when fired and propel .30 caliber rubber pellets.
All of those methods have been used during past College Fest events, he said.
"The crowd control response is fairly typical ... especially once it gets to the point of a riot type situation," Canfield said. "Initially our goal is to use walking teams and enforce the law in those smaller teams. We did that earlier in the day, but it eventually got to the point where we had to form up in what’s referred to as a skirmish line. And that’s when we were giving people commands to leave the area."
Kent Police Chief Michelle Lee said the police response depends upon how people attending house parties and other similar block-party like events react to police presence.
"I'll take 2011 for an example. The kids were partying and they were basically pretty law abiding up until a certain point," Lee said. "And we were very lenient with our enforcement. That was done intentionally.
"And I think in turn they responded well to that," Lee said. "And it got to a point where we started to receive complaints, and we started to be a little more proactive of the enforcement … but once those couple parties were shut down everyone went home."
Lee said this year differed because the party grew large quickly and attendants started throwing bottles and bricks at police almost immediately.
"It came to a point where innocent people were getting hurt by things being thrown and the assaults taking place, and we had to act," she said.
That's when police formed a skirmish line, started shooting tear gas and sting balls and making arrests.
Some amateur videographers who posted videos of College Fest on YouTube used the phrase "police brutality" in describing the action captured in the videos.
But Kent Police Capt. Jayme Cole said no complaints have been filed against the department regarding police action during College Fest.