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'Crazy driving' during Nerf Wars a concern, police say

Duluth police officer Ron Tinsley was heading toward the campus area on Woodland Avenue on a Saturday evening last year when he saw two cars run a red light.

Duluth police officer Ron Tinsley was heading toward the campus area on Woodland Avenue on a Saturday evening last year when he saw two cars run a red light.

Other cars were crossing with the green light, and one driver "had to to hit his brake real hard," recalled Tinsley, now the department's spokesman.

He managed to stop both miscreant drivers, he said, and when he questioned them discovered the reason for their behavior: Nerf Wars.

The activity, in which groups form teams and shoot foam darts from neon-colored toy guns at opposing players, blossomed with the dandelions last spring. More than a thousand high school students in the Twin Ports area participated, the News Tribune reported last May.

It's back, police say, and it's concerning - particularly when motor vehicles are involved.

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Although no known accidents have occurred because of the game, dangerous behavior has been observed, Tinsley said. They include reckless driving, speeding and failing to obey traffic signals.

"Some kids are unbelted in vehicles because they're focused on the game; they're not focused on having a seatbelt on," Tinsley said. "We're concerned for their safety, of course. We're concerned for other motorists as well as for pedestrians."

Similar behavior has occurred in Hermantown. Although he couldn't be reached for this article, Hermantown Police Chief Jim Crace addressed his concerns to parents of Hermantown High School students on April 10 via his department's Facebook page.

Crace wrote that he had ridden past the high school around midnight and had seen about 20 teens on school property near the hockey arena. Cars were being driven recklessly while other teens were on foot, he wrote, and turf was damaged by the vehicles. He attributed the behavior to Nerf Wars.

"I was able to round up about 20 of these kids and walk them into the warming shack where (we) had a chat about how dangerous this game is when they are playing it in and out of cars and on our roadways," Crace wrote.

Students who damaged school property either would be fixing the damage or would risk criminal charges, he added.

Hermantown police "will not tolerate any kids driving crazy, hanging out of cars or ripping up private or public property," Crace wrote.

Police don't want to be spoilsports, Tinsley said, but they want the fun to happen in a way that keeps everyone safe.

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When he made that traffic stop last year, Tinsley said, "I informed them: 'Hey, guys, I want you to have fun. It sounds like a great game, but you guys have to be safe about it.' "

Related Topics: POLICE
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