Pokémon Go Back To Work

LAPD fired two cops for chasing a Snorlax instead of a robber

There's a lesson to be learned here: Make sure you're not being recorded before playing 'Pokémon Go' on the job.

TOKYO, JAPAN - JANUARY 11: A visitor plays the Pokemon Go augmented-reality game on smartphones duri...
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Anyone who’s ever played a Pokémon game knows certain sacrifices must be made for the sake of catching ‘em all. Completing the Pokédex is no small task — trainers must be ready to prioritize pursuit of rarer species even when it’s not exactly convenient.

Louis Lozano and Eric Mitchell, two former LAPD officers, were willing to meet this challenge head-on, and their commitment got them both fired from the police force. The pair was responding to a call at a Macy’s in Los Angeles when they found themselves faced with a classic catch-22: Should they chase down the alleged robbers or catch a Snorlax?

For those of you sitting at home right now thinking this is an easy choice, you have to understand that this was April 2017. The world was a different place. Pokémon Go was still a relatively new phenomenon, for one thing, and it was proving to be a great distraction from the harsh realities of the newly instated Trump administration.

Anyway, Mitchell and Lozano were both fired for dropping their duties in hot pursuit of that Snorlax, Vice reports. How else were they supposed to catch it?

Gotta catch ‘em all — The details of Mitchell and Lozano’s case were only made public for the first time last week. Here’s what we now know: Mitchell and Lozano were on foot patrol on April 15, 2017 when the police captain put out a call about a robbery in progress at the Crenshaw Mall. Mitchell and Lozano did not respond to the call; a few other officers had to leave a homicide investigation to check it out.

Later on, the police captain became concerned that Michell and Lozano were acting “peculiar,” according to court documents. So he reviewed the digital in-car video system (DICVS) recording to see what they’d been up to.

The recording revealed the pair had explicitly decided not to respond to the robbery call. About five minutes later, Mitchell told Lozano that a Snorlax had “just popped up” nearby. They then spent the next 20 minutes discussing Pokémon on their way to the Snorlax location. (A footnote from the court document: “According to evidence admitted at the board of rights hearing, ‘Snorlax’ is a Pokémon creature known as ‘the Sleeping Pokémon.’”)

They did catch it — Here’s the good news: Mitchell did indeed catch the Snorlax. “Got ‘em,” he reportedly exclaimed. Afterward the pair decided to go find a Togetic that had popped up nearby. After a lengthy fight, Lozano ended up catching the Togetic. “The guys are going to be so jealous,” he said.

Both Mitchell and Lozano denied the allegations and said they were simply discussing Pokémon Go, not actually playing it. They were both fired and charged with multiple counts of on-duty misconduct. Their appeal — on the basis that they weren’t aware they’d been recorded — was denied on January 7, 2022.

If there’s any lesson to be learned here, it’s that you should triple-check that you’re not being recorded before playing Pokémon Go on the job. Or something like that.