UAPD's deputy chief has 25 years of stories

By Tom Collins
Arizona Daily Wildcat
October 23, 1996

Chris Richards
Arizona Daily Wildcat

Deputy Chief Harry Hueston holds out his UAPD badge. The badge is just one of many he has worn in his law-enforcement career.


He has busted bicycle thieves and drug dealers. He has secured Olympic venues and witnessed the 1970 killing of four students at Kent State University.

He is Harry Hueston, deputy chief of the University of Arizona Police Department, and he has been a college campus police officer for 25 years.

As a sergeant in the Ohio State University Police Department in the mid-1970s, Hueston assembled a 12-man group to combat a crime wave on the OSU campus.

"We were having a series of very serious narcotics problems, armed robbery problems, sexual assault problems, burglary problems and theft problems," he said.

The "tactical police response" was charged with curtailing these problems over a sixth-month period. Hueston said the unit cut those crime rates in half in a three-month period.

The team had a conviction rate of 94 to 98 percent for its arrests - the highest in the city of Columbus, Ohio, he said.

"When we arrested somebody ... they knew that they were going to be convicted," Hueston said.

He said that at the time, a gang of bicycle thieves was running rampant through the state universities of Ohio. The group of five men would steal 20 to 30 bicycles a day, and load them into a van five at a time.

Hueston's team found the thieves' van parked on campus near a tower where the OSUPD had a training office, he said.

Hueston radioed the office and asked the officers there to film the area below. He said the cameras caught the thieves on tape. The film was eventually shown on ABC's "20/20."

Leaving OSUPD in 1978, Hueston became the director of public safety at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles.

The weight lifting event of the 1984 Olympics was held at LMU, and Hueston was charged with securing the venue.

Guaranteeing the safety of a world event was a highlight of Hueston's life and the reason he had stayed at LMU, he said.

In 1985, Hueston joined the University of Arizona Police Department.

But none of these things would have happened if Hueston had not witnessed an event in 1970 that changed his life.

On May 4, 1970, the Ohio National Guard shot four students and injured nine more after three days of protests on the campus and in the town.

At the time, Hueston was Kent State's ROTC cadet commander, with plans to become a career military officer.

At noon on that day, after several days of clashes between anti-war protesters and authorities, a final protest involving between 500 and 1,500 people began.

The national guard marched out into the crowd and pushed it back up a hill on the commons, then withdrew and the crowd came back down the hill, Hueston said. Hueston was standing next to the commander of the national guard.

A sniper was reported on top of one of the buildings, Hueston said. Right after that report, he said two loud "cracks" rang out and two guardsmen fell down.

"I thought we were getting shot at," he said.

The national guard loaded their rifles.

Hueston said the two guardsmen had fallen down from exhaustion, as it turned out. But the mind set of the guardsmen was that they were being attacked.

The guardsmen pushed the students up the hill and, with "locked and loaded" rifles, they were pelted with bricks and bottles from a construction site.

"This is some serious crap going on here," Hueston said.

The crowd came back down the hill only to be pushed up one more time, Hueston said. It was the last time.

The guardsmen's sergeant then gave the order to fire.

"We had a mass shooting," he said.

The campus was closed immediately after.

"I drove like a bat out of hell to Pittsburgh," Hueston said.

He said that every residence hall room was searched.

"Talk about your right to privacy," Hueston said. "I can't think of any time worse in the history of academics in the United States."

At the time, Hueston said authorities did not know how to diffuse riot situations.

"What you had there was brute force - period," Hueston said.

The events have left a mark on Hueston, who never entered a military career as he had planned.

"That was one of the adverse impacts of all this happening," Hueston said.

"There was a lot of stuff going on at Kent that directly reflected the mood of our society at the time, but unfortunately, there was a huge price to pay, I mean, when students come to school and end up getting killed and killed by their own government - t hat's a tremendous cost," he said.

Hueston said he has been back to Kent State just once since he graduated.

His wife found a picture of the two of them in front of their residence hall when they first started dating. He said they took a new picture in the same place, but did not go to the site of the shooting.

He said the Kent State events gave him a different perspective on campus police work.

"I think its provided me some unique insight into some of the worst conditions you can face," Hueston said. "When you start shutting down academic institutions - I can't think of anything worse than that."

Hueston said that, though our country does not have a one nationally divisive issue, the events of 1970 are relevant.

"It doesn't mean that that will not occur again," Hueston said. "You look at the violence level in our society, we're much more violent as a society today."