Thursday, August 29, 2013

My First Two Encounters with Police while Playing Ingress

Earlier this week I had to go out of town for a funeral. So Monday evening I got in town, settled in, visited with some people. But by 10:00 pm was bored and had nothing planned to do. So I get on the COMM and announce I'm a level 8 player in town and want to help the local community while I was there.

Pretty soon I had a few replies. The other faction had a pretty large level 8 farm in a neighboring town, they were looking for some help taking down then they also needed help building their farm. I'm always in for blowing up enemy portals. So I offer to help do that. I was well stocked with several hundred Level 8 XMPs and dozens of power cubes thanks to the recent doubling the drop rate for cubes. I got on the road and headed to their farm.

I was blowing their portals up with ease. I went up one street and down the next attacking away and introducing Ingress to my younger brother (unfortunately he's an Apple guy and cant get him to play). I get to one street and even though I'm not familiar with the area I can tell the portals are in a park. I, legally, park on the side of the road in a marked parking spot and start firing L8 XMPs. Combining where I parked and the range on the XMPs I could hit all the portals in the park. By now, I've taken out half of the portals and then...

I saw the unmarked car pass by the first time and didn't make any mind of it. But a minute later he came back from behind be and the lights came on; including spotlights.

The officer approaches, very kindly, and tells us were in a park and the park closed at sunset.

I apologized and told him I didn't realize the street was in the park, but I would leave.

He was friendly and said the sign was not easy to see at night, but the entire street passes through the park and the park continued up until the next street. He thanked me and turned away as I pulled away. I unfortunately had to leave some of those portals, while damaged, still in the hands of the other faction.

I continue driving, my brother holding the tablet and navigating me through this unfamiliar territory. I knock out another couple of portals. I then come up to this church that has 3 L8 enemy portals on it's property. I park on the street. Once again I'm parked legally, on the street, in a marked spot in front of this church directly under a streetlight.  I'd been there for a minute or two then comes the same officer again. He pulls in the parking spot beside me, rolls down his window and asks me, "Are you playing that Google game where you have to go places to claim portals for your team and blow up other team's portals?"

I tell him yes as I show him my cell phone.

He goes on about wishing Google would delete the game and that they have gotten some reported possible burglaries that end up with people playing that game. He concludes by telling me that this is a small, sleepy old town that basically closes up completely at 10:00 pm and asks me to call it quits for the night and come back in the morning.

From my best knowledge, he had no legal reason to ask me to stop, I just thought it better to tell him I would stop. While I do not believe he had the legal authority to have me stop. Since I had left the park he admitted was poorly marked, I had done nothing wrong. But arguing was not something that could have any positive effect for me. Besides it was getting late and I think other than the chit-chat and catching up my brother was over playing with me.

In hindsight, I was an easy target for the officer. I was basically the only person moving around in the town, I had an out-of-state license plate and I was stopping frequently and probably seeming strange to anybody who did see me.

But note to others: If you are approached by police, be calm, be polite, tell them exactly what you are doing, and obey any instructions they give you. It's just a game. This officer very likely did not have the legal right/authority to ask me to stop, but is it worth the argument or discussion? No to me, that is not a booger I'm going to pick.

Decode Ingress has a good post about encountering law enforcement you may want to read if you haven't already: Ingress[tip]: Contact with Law Enforcement.

Happy and Safe Hacking!

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