Ask A Cop


Illustration: Sean Hennefer

Dear Officer,

I listen to podcasts like a couch potato watches television, while listening to a rookie podcast called Reply All that has started up in just the past year. A featured episode brought up a topic called swatting. A topic I have never herd of before until now and to my shock and astonishment after a quick google search for “Swatting in Utah,” it came apparent that there where a few cases across the state within the last year to year and a half. I am sure you understand what swatting is and how it affects the perpetrator being swatted the resources pissed away on reported faults events. For the people reading this letter who have never herd of swatting I will give the SparkNotes version of the subject. Basically immature people in one way or another call the local police or emergency line and provide faults accusations of a reported hostage situation of another person, escalating the event to where a entire S.W.A.T. team shows up busting into a persons residence to defuse a situation only to find the accusations where a hoax.

Since this is a relatively new phenomenon that has started within the past four to five years I was wondering what your thoughts where on swatting and what preventative measures if any have been put in place to help recognize the initial prank caller?

Although it’s not as common as it was a few years ago, when swatting does occur, it’s a horrific, dangerous and wretched act no matter what the motivation. The act of calling the police due to a grudge, hate for whatever reason, unbridled jealousy or a petty slight just demonstrates their pathetic existence. I’m sure you’ve heard  the phrase “Misery loves company.” That’s how I view these people—so miserable that they want everyone to feel as worthless as they are.
I’ve never been involved in or investigated a swatting case, but I know a few cops who have. Yes, there are red flags that go off in these incidents. However, we won’t discuss them here. Dispatch centers use state-of-the-art technology that can aid in detecting these calls. However, know this: If you swat someone because they’re kicking your ass in a video game, you are going to get caught. If it’s in another state, you’ve now got the FBI on your case, and they will make a federal case out of it. Search the Internet—it’s full of news reports about people doing major prison time because their miserable existence made them do something stupid.
You mentioned instances of immaturity and “pranks” being involved in swatting. They are usually perpetrated by kids. They have no idea the amount of pain—from the authorities and civilly from their victims—that their parents are going to experience. Again, check the Internet. Swatting has decreased significantly due to hefty penalties, and hopefully, it’ll be gone soon.
Perpetrators, remember this: If your idiocy overcomes any sense you ever possessed—I don’t care if you spoof a call, anonymize yourself or do whatever you think is hiding your identity—it’s not going to work, and you’re going to get caught. Just ask all those deep web freaks trading child porn or the Silk Road web drug dealers who thought no one would ever know.
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