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Teens running through yards, hiding in bushes in 'cops and robbers' game raises safety concerns

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This is the neighbor's 911 call that brought police to the Sacramento home where they shot Stephon Clark, an unarmed black man, in his grandparents’ backyard.
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This is the neighbor's 911 call that brought police to the Sacramento home where they shot Stephon Clark, an unarmed black man, in his grandparents’ backyard.

"Cops and robbers", a competition between high school upper and lower classmen typically played out in a Carmichael neighborhood near Rio Americano High School, is raising new concerns in the wake of Sunday's fatal shooting following a burglary report in Sacramento's Meadowview area.

The Sacramento County Sheriff's Department is working with school officials and through social media to alert parents in an effort to discourage students from participating in the planned Friday night event. At the same time, the Wilhaggin Del Dayo Neighborhood Association has issued a notice to area residents to allay fears if they see teens running through their yards or hiding bushes.

Kathleen Newton, a resident and communications director for the neighborhood association, said she sent the notice to members after learning of a Twitter post announcing that "cops and robbers" will take place Friday beginning at 6 p.m. and continuing until "whenever".

Newton said she has not witnessed the event in years past, but a resident who has complained of kids running though yards and speeding down streets in pickups and cars.

Newton is worried about more than a neighborhood nuisance. "We're worried about the safety of the kids," she said. "There's no way of knowing what might happen."

Only about 50 percent of residents in the Wilhaggin and Del Dayo area are members of the association, she said, and given news of gun violence and bombings, some may have licensed firearms to protect their homes.

The neighborhood association contracts with the Sacramento County Sheriff's Department for neighborhood patrols, and Newton said the Sheriff's Department is making sure deputies are aware of the event.

Sgt. Shaun Hampton, sheriff's spokesman, said the Sheriff's Department has been working with school administrators and district public information officers "to let the parents know and try to deter the kids."

Although the activity has generated calls to the Sheriff's Department in the past, he said, "the operations impact is not major. We just want everybody to be safe."

Newton said she spoke with Rio Americano Principal Brian Ginter and Vice Principal Robert Kerr about the activity. They told her that because is it not a school-sanctioned event and is held after school hours, school officials have no control over it.

She was told the game will begin in Shelfield Park east of Arden Way and end at Rio Americano High School.

Ginter and Kerr could not be reached for comment Thursday afternoon.

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