LIMA — Earlier this month a video surfaced on YouTube of multiple fights at Robb Park.
The Lima Police Department has since viewed the video and is looking for anyone officers can identify, Lima Police Maj. Chip Protsman said.
In the video published April 7, numerous people who appear to be teenagers, perhaps early 20s, are fighting at Robb Park during daylight hours. While it starts out with what appears to be a fight between two young men, the video quickly shows it’s more of a free-for-all fight that includes one boy getting sucker punched and another getting attacked by multiple people while on the ground.
The video is crude but the person taking it tries to chase down each fight as it occurs in the 2 minute and 32 second clip dubbed “Rob Park throwdown.”
The video has garnered 765 views as of Saturday night.
The video is in the hands of an officer who works with juveniles to try to identify those involved, Protsman said.
No one reported injuries and the fight appears to be an isolated incident although not the first at the park, Protsman said.
“We have been called out there for a large fight in the past. I’m only aware of the one call,” Protsman said.
That fight as well as other safety concerns were discussed last week with police and park officials.
Lima Director of Parks and Recreation and Forestry Ric Stolly said the incident is isolated and in no way indicates that park or any other recreational sites are not safe.
“This is a rare thing for the parks,” he said.
Parks host a lot of people and sometimes are meeting places for teens. Unfortunately, sometimes teens or others cause trouble, Stolly said.
“It pops up from time to time,” he said.
The fight at Robb Park was not the only incident making headlines for those who oversee the parks.
Lima Park Rangers also oversee the Lima Riverwalk where two dogs attacked and mauled a man Monday. The 30-year-old man was in critical condition after two cane corso dogs bit him in the face, and on his arms and legs.
“That was horrible,” Stolly said.
NOT THE NORM
While the parks in Lima have had a share of unwelcome attention this week, such incidents are far from the norm. The true norm is people use the parks to have fun, exercise and gather with family without any problems, officials said.
Incidents in which people get upset with each other can happen anytime a lot of people gather. As an example, Stolly said, sledding of all things, occasionally has issues that pop up.
Sometimes a person on the hill is a little reckless and runs into or crashes into others. Park officials try to remind those sledding to remember safety first, he said.
Another issue, although it may not sound big to some, is people leaving a mess at a shelter house after a party without cleaning up. Or even someone using a shelter house without a permit while the person with a permit shows up. The person with the permit has first rights, Stolly said.
“Respect the space that has been provided and always leave it a little nicer than you found it and, for the most part, that’s exactly what happens,” Stolly said.
Lima has three full-time park rangers who are commissioned law enforcement officers through the Lima Police Department. They carry guns and have arrest powers but would much prefer to work out problems instead of arresting anyone, Stolly said.
“We don’t go out to arrest people. We just try to solve problems and once in a while have to arrest someone who gets out of hand,” Stolly said. “We’re in the parks to help people and assist people.”
Johnny Appleseed Metropolitan Park District Director Kevin Haver said the six park rangers plus himself occasionally see problems but not too often.
“We attribute that to the fact we are out there and very visible,” Haver said.
Appleseed district rangers make about 10 arrests a year, Haver estimated. Those typically are for misdemeanor offenses such as drunken driving in the park, disorderly conduct and sometimes drug possession, he said.
Other issues in the Appleseed district that crop up are people with dogs without leashes. There’s also littering, which is a big one that bothers Haver, he said.
“That’s a pet peeve of mine. I always say littering is the epitome of laziness,” Haver said.
Auglaize County Sheriff Al Solomon said the Sheriff’s Office receives all 911 calls including calls at parks in the county. Park rangers can be notified and deputies sometimes respond or assist park rangers on calls.
While problems crop up occasionally at parks, it’s rare. One Solomon recalled that has been a number of years ago was men using Fort Amanda State Park as a meeting place to have sex with other men.
“We’ve had nothing reported recently,” he said.
Putnam County Sheriff Mike Chandler said the county only has smaller parks in towns and villages, and not a metro park. Parks in Putnam County rarely generate trouble, he said.
“If we get a call to a park, it’s probably not law enforcement related. It’s probably more medical related. Someone fell off something, broke a leg,” he said.
Most calls to parks in the villages are handled by the police agencies for those jurisdictions unless no officer is on duty, then a deputy responds, Chandler said.
WATCHING OVER THE PARKS
Lima rangers cover the 14 locations that include parks, recreational spaces such as the tennis courts on Collett Street and the reservoirs on the eastside of town and outside of the city west of town, Stolly said.
Rangers rely heavy on residents and neighbors to be the eyes and ears. Additional part-time rangers are brought in, when needed, during busy times such as the summer or even events, he said.
The Appleseed district has 12 parks scattered across Allen County. The Ottawa Metro Park is by far the busiest park in the district, Haver said, with 220,000 cars pulling in each year. That park has a campground and swimming area. People also use the park to ride bikes or skating, he said.
All 12 parks in the Appleseed district, combined, have 700,000 cars enter annually, which are tallied by counters at gates. Many of those are repeat visitors, he said.
Auglaize County has the Grand Lake St. Marys State Park, which also stretches into Mercer County. There are smaller parks in villages or in one of the cities in that county.
Haver said park rangers are not out to arrest people unless their acts are egregious enough to warrant it. The main goal is safety that allows everyone to enjoy the parks, he said.
“We try, as much as possible, to prevent people from breaking the law and to educate people from breaking the rules,” Haver said. “We practice prevention instead of prosecution.”
Fight on YouTube
Robb Park throwdown