It was a police catch of a different kind. The police department in Newark, CA, managed to nab over 200 hundred Pokémon GO players not for breaking the law but for a good cause: playing the game in a safe environment while connecting with local law enforcement officers.
Newark Police sponsored a Pokémon GO event on Sunday, July 23, which drew a huge turnout; just two minutes after starting at 7PM, there were already well over a 100 people at the event. Kids and adults alike had a chance to catch Pokémon in a safe environment while getting to know better the men and women in uniform who protect them, not just while playing the game but every day. This kind of event was not only creative but also helpful, especially during a time of strain between communities and police officers across the country. Guests also received goodies including free stickers and pens, and many attendees even got up close and personal with both police cruisers and a German Shepherd of a K-9 unit.
I myself had the opportunity to catch three Pokémon (all were Pidgeys, which are pigeon-like Pokémon) at the two PokéStops there at the station. I did miss a rumored Bulbasaur at the nearby Newark Library.
I also interviewed several police officers in a Facebook Live and unfortunately had problems with the microphone volume. In short, Officer Salizar mentioned one officer had the idea for a couple years and that the department greatly supports the event. I even caught a couple of his fellow officers playing the game along with the kids. The officers also reminded people that when you play Pokémon, to be careful of your surroundings, do it with a friend, and do NOT Pokémon and drive…otherwise you may catch yourself a PoliceMON. (You get it? ;))
I did a quick Facebook 360 video and photo below you can click to watch and drag/click around of all the festivities!
Overall, it was the kind of event that makes you go “Wow! This is what it’s all about. Bringing people together in an atmosphere of fun and safety.” The event was so successful that half a dozen other police departments in nearby cities are planning on hosting their own Pokémon GO community gaming events.
Of course there are those that strangely despise others playing the game, but imagine if a single animation game and a cute character named Pikachu can bring people closer together…what other wonderful things can happen?
Facebook Live video from Newark Police Department of event below!