Trophy Club police set rules for ‘Fugitive’ game players

05/05/2014 5:03 PM

05/05/2014 5:04 PM

Police officers were bracing for another weekend of so-called "Fugitive" activity, but last week, Police Cmdr. Lee Delk met with an organizer of the games to establish some rules.

"The positive meeting resulted in mutual agreement of the rules and possible negative implications if the rules are not followed," Delk said in a news release Friday.

"The players must stay off private property, including Trophy Club Country Club property, and stay out of parks an hour past sunset."

For about a month on weekends, night-shift patrol officers have responded to reports of large numbers of young people in Harmony Park and in nearby neighborhoods playing the extreme game of tag, organized through social media, a modern version of cops and robbers.

On Monday, Delk said no one has been arrested or cited as part of the game.

“Our primary concern is for the safety of residents and players,” he said.

The game includes running on streets, jumping into random yards, hiding in bushes and ducking into shadows.

“The game isn’t illegal,” Delk told the Star-Telegram. “But you get some kid dressed in black and hiding in someone’s backyard in the middle of the night, and there’s a potential for problems.”

Generally, the games are organized by texting or using social media such as Facebook. Players gather at night and divide into “cops” and “fugitives.” The “cops,” in cars, chase the “fugitives,” on foot. The danger comes in when the “cops” jump out of cars during the chase, or “fugitives” go into strange backyards. In some games, flashlights are used to tag “fugitives.”

No major highways are used, but neighborhoods are the playing fields.

“We’ve told them to stick to the streets,” Delk said. “But we have gotten calls from residents saying a stranger is in their backyard or someone just ran on the front yard.”

Delk estimated 20 to 30 young people have been involved in games on the weekends, mostly on Friday and Saturday nights. He said police have responded to calls every weekend in April.

“Before that, it was just sporadic,” Delk said.

Some young people have been detained by residents who have told officers that they didn’t want to press charges.

“Residents have been concerned for the kids’ safety,” Delk said. “Once an officer gets to the scene, a resident has just wanted us to talk to them, but no one has been arrested.”

Delk said residents could pursue charges of criminal trespass against the young players and officers could issue citations for breaking curfew or for traffic violations. Police said the game is risky because residents could mistake players for prowlers or burglars.

“Fugitive” hasn’t surfaced as a problem elsewhere in Tarrant County. Fort Worth and Arlington said they have had no reports, nor have Grapevine, Southlake and Keller.

Through the years, the game has resulted in injuries and tragedies. In 2010, a 16-year-old girl and her passenger in Sammamish, Wash., suffered serious injuries when the car they were in crashed into a tree and fence while they were chasing players. Last May a 17-year-old died after he fell from the bed of a pickup truck while playing in Surprise, Ariz., according to reports by ABC-15 News.

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