Cops: No thanks to personalized fantasy games
In a video-gaming reality created by Grand Junction resident Edward Woods, the badge ruled.
With flicks of a controller, police officers shot firearms, arrested and detained people and pursued and crashed patrol cruisers.
For Woods, however, fantasy law enforcement earned him a real-life cease-and-desist letter from the city of Grand Junction.
An aspiring police officer and gaming enthusiast, Woods, 20, said he wanted to pay tribute to his hometown police agency when he started work in May on a series of “skins” — detailed replicas of the Grand Junction Police Department’s patrol fleet of black-and-white Chevrolet Tahoes, Dodge Chargers and Ford Crown Victorias, among other vehicles.
Woods recently made his work available for free download on a website called Liberty City Police Department First Response, which allows for modification of the popular video game, Grand Theft Auto IV.
The modification allows users to play Grand Theft Auto, but with police vehicles and officers in place of the game’s normal characters.
“(LCPDFR) turns the entire concept of (Grand Theft Auto) titles upside down and puts the player on the side of the thin blue line — arresting crooks, not working for them,” reads a description on the gaming website.
Woods said his Grand Junction “skins” were downloaded more than 300 times before June 21, when he was contacted by the department via email.
“While we do believe his intentions are good, we have asked him to remove any logos, lettering or references to our department,” police spokeswoman Kate Porras said. “This is not something we plan to aggressively pursue, but hopefully he will comply with our requests.”
Porras said the department was concerned about how officers could be portrayed.
“We enjoy a positive relationship with our community, and we want to guard that,” she said.
A copy of the email sent to Woods expressed thanks for supporting local police and ended with, “we are happy to send you a formal letter requesting these changes if necessary.”
Woods told The Daily Sentinel that he planned to comply. Internet searches this past week turned up no sign of his Grand Junction police works. A video made to show off his work has since been removed from YouTube.
Woods said he wasn’t offended, writing in an email that he’d hoped his work would help his chances to secure sponsorship from Grand Junction police for officer academy training. He said he’s still pursuing a career in law enforcement.
“I also understand that the GJPD doesn’t want to be associated with the Grand Theft Auto gaming community ... because of the graphic nature of Grand Theft Auto IV, and even my own videos are graphic to a point,” Woods said.
The Grand Theft Auto series has been the focus of controversy for its adult nature and violent themes, focusing around different characters trying to rise through ranks of criminal underworlds.
Woods said he will continue his work, but for private use only.