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Police have warning for ‘Pokemon Go’ players: Play safe

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‘Gotta catch ‘em all:’ That`s a great slogan for Washington`s Most Wanted, but it belongs to Nintendo`s Pokemon.

Players are determined to make sure there’s nowhere left to hide when they’re hunting Pikachu, but police have a warning for everyone playing the new game, ‘Pokemon Go,’ to do it safely.

“Here, you’re actually looking at real-time, at the police department. You see the bird?” That’s Sgt. Lori Batiot at Duvall Police showing the Pokemon creatures popping up on their property.

She understands the popularity of the game, but is asking people not to surprise officers when they`re hunting for Pokemon, saying in a Facebook post, “We have had some people playing the game behind the PD, in the dark, popping out of bushes, etc. This is high on our list of things that are not cool right now.” Sgt. Batiot adds, “Two of our officers were actually ambushed a couple of years back, so that`s still fresh for this department and with the things going on in recent days, the ambush shootings in Dallas, it`s something that`s present in our minds.”

Data pix.

Marysville Police have a different kind of warning: Telling players on Twitter, “Just had another ‘Pokemon Go’ player jumping into traffic. Watch out for distracted players.” Pierce County Det. Ed Troyer adds, “You don`t want to get yourself killed in a crosswalk looking for Pikachu.”

Sarah Ball, like her husband and many of her friends, loves the game. “I can see how you can just walk out into the street on accident. We`ve walked probably 15 to 20 miles in the last 6 days playing this game.” Finding Pokemon along the way. The problem? Pokemon can be anywhere, as Sarah found out. “I really needed to decide whether to risk my life walking on the train tracks to get it, but I am a smart adult and I didn`t.”

Det. Troyer says they`re already getting 911 calls about suspicious people who turn out to be playing the game. In fact, it didn`t take four minutes while we were talking for him to spot a group of Pokemon Go players. He asked, “Are you guys playing Pokemon? We were just talking about that. You`re not in trouble. It`s ok.” Their answer – “yes” -- it gets them out of the house and exercising, walking miles each day.

The Washington State Department of Transportation is also tweeting warnings to drivers, “Pikachu can wait.”

King County Metro is reminding everyone to “look up.”

Det. Troyer says he expects the calls to get worse -- from the mistaken trespassing, to people using the app to commit crimes. Sgt. Batiot says, “I would say if you are going to play this game do it during the daylight hours. Do it in groups of people. Make it very obvious about what you are doing and then play it the way it`s intended to be played.” And, Sgt. Batiot is asking people to check-in with them before they start searching the bushes around the police department and she has one other good piece of advice: Have a lookout. 'If a couple of people are looking down at the cell phone, they can have a couple of people who are designated spotters. They can watch the environment around the group that`s playing and make sure everybody stays safe.”

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