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Swatting is not Amusing

You have noticed and read the news, chaos and disruption, society veering away from the norm. At least the normal that was familiar to us. Without focusing on the grim reality of mass shootings, there is another crazy thing happening.

Swatting. This is an act of creating a hoax 911 call, typically the caller reporting hostages, gunfire or other acts of extreme violence. The goal is to divert law enforcement and emergency responders to a person’s residence, or in some cases, a campus setting.

This act is deliberate, and is a malicious act that creates an atmosphere of fear and unnecessary risk. In fact, a responding law enforcement officer shot and killed an unintended victim, all because of swatting.

It is not amusing.

There are laws and penalties, but swatting continues to be an issue. Law enforcement find it hard to enforce because swatters use sophisticated techniques to hide their identity. Often times, the swatter uses ID spoofing, using software to make it appear that it is a local call, but they could be anywhere in the world.

Campus security is taking the larger portion of prank calls. Officers respond swiftly to a call from a campus. Once they arrive, it will be with guns drawn. In early February, police in Saginaw Township, MI, rammed a cruiser through the locked front doors at Nouvel Catholic Central High School. Reportedly, two students shot.

It boggles my mind what a person who makes this kind of call might be thinking. It reminds of some wayward student pulling the fire alarm, back in the day. It was not funny then, and it sure is not funny today.

“We cannot empower people like this, nor let them undermine the emotional well-being of our students and our team,” wrote Eric Swain, principal of Clovis West High School in Fresno, Calif., in a letter to parents, informing them that classes would continue after the school dealt with swatting calls Feb. 3 and 6.

This article originally appeared in the March / April 2023 issue of Security Today.

About the Author

Ralph C. Jensen is the Publisher of Security Today magazine.

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