After 16 months of operation, the Ohio State Patrol's Akron post on the University of Akron campus is almost completely renovated to fit the needs of the troopers, investigators and U.S. Secret Service agents who call it home.

There's just the one small matter of the common-area sinks, which barely hit the troopers' kneecaps.

That's because before the 13,000-square-foot building at 108 Fir Hill was a law enforcement headquarters, it was a child care center.

The center closed about three years ago, just before the state patrol started looking for a place to reopen a post in Summit County.

"It's so clear that we were meant to be here," Director Thomas Stickrath of the Ohio Department of Public Safety, said during an open house of the facility Tuesday.

The highway patrol previously had a post in Summit County, but merged it with the one in Stark County and covered both areas from the headquarters in Stark.

Colonel Richard Fambro said recent years of crime and crash statistics showed that arrangement "no longer made sense."

Fambro at least partially credited the reopening of a Summit County post with a 33 percent decrease in the number of fatal crashes in the county from 2017 to 2018.

"I can assure you our troopers made a difference," he said.

The university owns the building and offered a long-term lease to the highway patrol, which outfitted it to meet the patrol's administrative and law enforcement needs. Agents assigned to Summit County from the Cleveland office of the U.S. Secret Service occupy space in the basement.

University Interim President John Green said the patrol is part of the effort to maintain a safe campus for students, faculty and staff, which he called a "prerequisite" for learning.

CFO Nathan Mortimer said the university has an informal agreement for the highway patrol to "enhance security on campus."

"Their presence alone means a lot to the university," he said. "It's just an extra level of insurance to our community."

 

Contact reporter Jennifer Pignolet at jpignolet@thebeaconjournal.com, at 330-996-3216 or on Twitter @JenPignolet.