The beginning pokemon go frenzy apparently led to bad choices by two police officers. Like axios‘ Stephen Totilo and BBC News report, the LAPD is now known having fired cops Louis Lozano and Eric Mitchell for ignoring a robbery on April 15, 2017 to play Niantic’s augmented reality blockbuster. Instead of responding to a radio call demanding backup for a robbery at Macy’s in Crenshaw Mall, officers spent the next 20 minutes driving around to pick up a Snorlax (an unusual in-game find) and a Togetic.
Lozano and Mitchell denied playing pokemon go and insisted they were just “talking” about the game, but the car’s camera revealed that they discussed the theft call and chose to ignore it. Another officer also witnessed the cruiser leave the area after the call. Details came to light when the former officers lost an appeal that would have discarded the damning images for alleged rights violations.
The incident came months after Niantic began discouraging drivers from gambling, and it’s safe to say that moments like this are less likely when pokemon go demand has cooled. Still, this highlights the dangers of AR metaverses and addictive gameplay – it can be very tempting to shy away from real-life tasks when the virtual world beckons.
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