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In a recent Toledo Blade story — titled "Put-In-Bay Police Chief defends inexperienced officers" — the paper noted police chief Ric Lampela would be losing four officers next week, who will have to be replaced by "less-experienced officers" and that his "department is in competition with others for officers, he said, adding that he is impeded in his search by the job's seasonality and low pay."
The Put-in-Bay police chief and department have been under fire for other reasons in the past year.
There was the federal lawsuit filed in June by a 46-year-old man who says he was handcuffed and "brutally beaten and pepper sprayed by officers last September" simply, he claims, for asking about his son, who had been arrested for assault.
And then there were the seemingly strange and random arrests of three employees of an island hotel who "refused to provide information about the termination of another employee and would not immediately produce a final paycheck," according to a report by the Sandusky Register. The chief nor the mayor have satisfactorily answered why they were arrested. (Video of the incident was published by the paper, and it's as strange as it sounds.)
And then there was the story, just a day later in July, of police handcuffing a 68-year-old former Port Clinton school superintendent after he allegedly ran a stop sign. The man exited his car and police handcuffed him, fearing, as they said, for their safety.
Chief Lampela did not respond to requests for comment for this article.
It's understandable that visitors aren't aware of the string of druggings at the pool and elsewhere on the island — they're coming from near and far, dropping in for a few days and knowing little more about Put-in-Bay than that it's a nice place to get wild for a weekend. The Sandusky Register has done a great job covering a number of the druggings, rapes and attempted rapes consistently, but the daily paper is hardly the kind of travel-planning reading material a visitor is going to check out.
But some islanders know — it's a small island, after all, and gossip and police incidents spread quickly amongst curious and concerned employees and residents. One anonymous letter landed at Scene's offices after initial queries on Put-in-Bay.
"We believe your readers would enjoy a story about Christmas in July at Put-in-Bay," it reads. "Please come up and enjoy spending time at Mr. Ed's poolside bar Mist. Then cruise over to the Blue Marlin. After a day watching that spectacle, enjoy the rest of the night at Mr. Ed's Bar. After hours are spent at Blanky's illegal strip club/brothel. Keep your eye on your drink at all times. Be very careful while you are in these establishments. Bring your camera... People do not believe that this is happening."
Mist employees are definitely aware of it, too.
"Oh yeah, those pills," says one Mist bouncer when asked about the season-long stretch of druggings at the business he's helping protect. He's one of ten or so security members manning the pool area, checking IDs and bags, keeping an eye on everything. "It's been real big this summer, but I..." A fellow security guard cuts him off before directing questions to the "no comment" bar manager inside Mr. Ed's.
It's just before noon on Sunday and the partiers are headed home and back to real life where day drinking and swimsuit lunches aren't the norm.The bachelor parties are over, the hotel rooms are left in shambles, stories are passed around, and the number of people who say they'll never drink again are at an all-time high.
Cars line-up three lanes deep, packed bumper-to-bumper waiting up to several hours to get a spot on the ferry. Those who parked on the mainland walk up to the gate, waiting to load while toting their luggage and empty coolers, a significantly lighter haul than when they arrived.
The ferry is not kind to returning partiers on Sundays. The slight rocking as it navigates the Lake Erie waves is just enough motion to push some people from a simple hangover to the point of projectile vomiting over the side of the boat. Others just stand there — sunglasses on, sipping Gatorade — in hungover silence just waiting for the moment they can slip into their own bed.
The ferry hits the mainland dock and the cars pour out making their way through the streets towards the highways home. Then the others pour out, lugging their bags to the massive parking lots surrounding the docks. Back to regular life.
Four days later, a fresh wave of partiers, many of whom have never been to the island, will board the ferry and head toward Put-in-Bay, where the party never ends.
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