“We were tasked with trying to enforce the helmet rule,” Greene said. “We changed it from just advising (the skaters) to have a helmet to mandating they need a helmet.”
This meant recreation leaders from the City Park Gym, Parks & Recreation gym security and officers of the Griffin Police Department had to monitor the skate park. Every hour, on the hour, they would go to the park. If they spotted someone skating without a helmet, they would ask them where their helmet was. Second and third offenses meant possible suspension from all Parks & Recreation property.
However, budget cuts made the rules more difficult to enforce.
“We have very limited hours that we’re there now,” Greene said.
The fact there was a rule but the county was not monitoring the skate park to the necessary degree increased the county’s liability if an accident occurred.
The skaters also chafed at the helmet rule. When staff approached, the skaters would skate away and return when the officials left. Skaters became combative toward staff and Griffin police, using foul language. When that happened, the skaters were arrested.
“Increasingly, they were arresting these kids,” Greene said.
Eventually, Lt. Sam Parks of the Griffin Police Department contacted Greene and said it was getting harder to enforce the rule. Arrests were becoming more and more frequent, fewer skaters used the park and more skaters were skating illegally in downtown Griffin.
“They were going back to the street,” Greene said.
The matter ultimately went before the Parks and Recreation Advisory Commission, which recommended to the Spalding County Board of Commissioners that the mandatory helmet policy be overturned.
This happened at the Monday meeting of the board, where the commissioners voted 4-1, with Board of Commissioners member Bob Gilreath dissenting, to make wearing a helmet optional and skating without a helmet be at the participants’ own risk.
Greene said the staff will still monitor the skate park but they will no longer require skaters to wear helmets.
"I just feel if you’re at least 18 or if you have experience ... it should be up to you,” said Gregory Kwok, 20.
Jayeson York, 20, said those who are comfortable with what they’re doing and don’t push their boundaries unnecessarily shouldn’t have to wear helmets.
Daniel Mangum, 19, said at indoor skate parks, the park management takes IDs and if the person is over 18, they do not have to wear a helmet. He thinks The Grind should operate the same way.