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Safety first, then Pokemon: Police warn players to look both ways before catching 'em all in the newest Pokemon game
July 25, 2016

BY BRIANNA MATHIAS AND GABE LICHT
Editorial Intern and Editor

WRIGHT, CARVER, MCLEOD, AND MEEKER COUNTIES, MN – Nintendo’s Pokémon Go dropped in the App Store July 6. Immediately, it picked up popularity around the globe – including local communities.

This game makes players physically move around in order to capture animated creatures in “Pokéballs.”

“For me, it’s the fact that I can go around with my friends, and we can see interesting places while interacting with a game, meeting new people, and seeing new things,” Noel Gilder, of Delano, said. “The exploration portion is really fun, and it’s fitness.”

Some may believe this game to be a great motivator for people to get exercise, but others have seen some safety issues arise when players become unaware of their surroundings.

The Winsted Police Department, for example, has recently observed several people playing Pokémon Go and nearly walking into traffic, and trespassing on private property.

“The police department would like to remind people who are playing these games that they cannot go onto private property without permission, and if they do so, they may be charged with a crime,” Police Chief Justin Heldt noted. “Please pay attention while walking up to – and across – roadways, to avoid being struck by a vehicle.”

Gilder heeds this advice, and added some of his own.

“You should always be aware when playing PoGo,” Gilder said. “Trying to catch a Pokémon and walking can turn into a bad time. And, never Pokémon and drive. PoGo is a great game, as long as you stay safe.”

Wright County Sheriff Joe Hagerty reinforced Gilder’s advice.

“I will tell people that you can’t stare at your phones all day long,” Hagerty said. “You just have to have common sense. Common sense while driving, common sense when crossing the road, and you need to respect people’s privacy and property.”

Though some police stations have been facing certain issues due to the game, other offices haven’t received any reports related to Pokémon Go.

“Someone told us there’s something that can be picked up close to city hall, so we’ve seen some of them playing it,” Howard Lake Police chief David Thompson said. “But we haven’t had any calls in about it yet.”

The thing Thompson was referring to is a Pokéstop, a place where players can collect items such as Pokéballs, potions, lures, and eggs.

Thompson said he would warn all those playing the game to stay alert.

“Get your phone out of your face when you’re crossing the street,” Thompson said.

The loading screen of the game warns players to be aware of their surroundings. However, some players have not heeded this advice.

“We were dealing with people running around town during the lock down in Watkins playing the game and not paying attention to potential hazards,” Meeker County Sheriff Brian Cruze said.

There were issues during the July 11 tornado, as well as after, according to Cruze.

“During the cleanup, people weren’t paying attention to where they were going,” Cruze said. “Make sure you know your surroundings. We had people just walking down the street, not paying any attention to other people in Watkins. Walking into people is disrupting.”

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