The struggle to get swatting taken seriously by law enforcement


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Well, now that it’s happened to somebody important, I’m sure that people will take it seriously!

Wait, congresswoman. Never mind.


Is this really a problem for the police? Or is it a thrill to dress up in combat gear and go into battle? Our police culture of total overreaction to any perceived threat is also a contributor to this situation.


Emphasis mine. I think all three things should be considered the same but law enforcement officers seem to believe that if it involves the internet, however tangentially, it’s just kids playing games. Or it’s unenforceable because, you know, tracking down the source is hard.


Nailed it, right there :cry:


I was thinking about this yesterday with regards to the FBI and cryptography. They are convinced, despite the evidence to the contrary, that the issue of a “universal backdoor” is just a matter of ingenuity. Cryptography is just an ingenuity problem that requires us to give up our rights and securities so the FBI can do its job. But somehow it’s not an ingenuity problem for the FBI. Somehow it’s not the FBI’s job to be ingenious and devise methods for working around the realities of cryptography. It’s always everyone else who has to do the work and give up certain things. Why is that?


The internet is certainly a better choice than phoning in a bomb threat or leaving a fingerprint-laden note; but the cops(and likely the feds, since basically anything you do online probably has an interstate nexus if someone wants it to) do still tend to take bomb threats, insinuations of imminent school shootings, and the like seriously if delivered online.

They aren’t necessarily going to be able to track down the source as easily or at all; but if they do it will probably hurt.

I have to wonder if, aside from cluelessness and inertia, there is an institutional dislike of anything that codifies the idea that having the cops show up is actually a fairly bad and seriously risky outcome(markedly more dangerous than a bomb threat, since those are almost always just timewasting hoaxes).

Spurious 911 calls are generally seen as something that is discouraged or criminalized because it wastes police time, not because calling out the cops is a good way to ruin somebody’s day, possibly permanently. Taking swatting seriously essentially requires acknowledging that a visit from Officer Friendly is typically a worse outcome than receiving a bomb threat, having some idiot mouthing off about shooting up the place or joining ISIS, and similar flavors of harassing calls. That might not be something Officer Friendly is too enthusiastic about.


Unfortunately, police are supposed to have the judgment so that a visit from them shouldn’t escalate beyond what is necessary for the given set of circumstances. It’s just that we’ve allowed cops to devolve into a “shoot first and make something up if someone asks questions later” culture. And they pretend like a visit from them shouldn’t ruin your day, but it’s like getting sued for something you didn’t do or do wrong - it’s bad even if you prevail at the end of the experience.


I’m baffled at how false reporting of any emergency situation isn’t considered an offence.


It is. But the issue is when false reports come from across state lines it becomes an issue for the FBI, not local law enforcement. When it comes from another country then it gets even weirder.

When swatting takes place in a town that doesn’t have the resources to track down a VIOP call there’s no way they’ll be able to cross the country to serve a warrant.


Really, swatting is terrorism.

“Hah! I sent a militarized unit of hyper aggressive guys geared up with automatic weapons and flashbangs to some unsuspecting person’s house. Just to scare the shit out of them. Or if they’re unlucky, killed on the spot.”


It certainly is a potential problem - every so often police are killed by law abiding citizens when a SWAT team goes to the wrong address and the inhabitant is alarmed to see armed men breaking into the house without identifying themselves. So it’s unlikely but possible. A police officer, rather than a swatting victim, getting shot and killed is probably what it will take for the police to start taking it seriously. (Although, sadly, that doesn’t mean they’ll do anything constructive in response.)

Yeah, it’s ironic - a hoax bomb threat isn’t going to kill anyone, swatting very much could result in death(s), and yet the first is treated very seriously and the second not at all. I think bomb threats have always been treated seriously because they target - and disrupt - institutions, usually government institutions. Since no police officer has yet to be shot during a swatting incident, I don’t think that’s a threat that law enforcement even considers - so it is just seen as timewasting. Not wanting to acknowledge that a visit from the police is inherently dangerous is part of it, too, I’m sure (and not something that was even considered by most of the victims, who seem to be largely white and middle class).

Yeah, it absolutely is. But the police, of course, will never acknowledge that, because they’re the instruments of terror…


Because they’re lazy spoiled entitled children who just don’t think very well. Welcome to the house that Bush built. But I’m sure you’re familiar.


So why would she need to propose a bill to outlaw swatting, if it’s already illegal? I’m confused.


Because it’s local or state laws that make it illegal, not one for the nation that would allow the FBI to work on the case.


Well if you’re afraid of the police you must have a reason, right?

God. Damn. America.


More and greater disincentives? Funding earmarked for solving the problem? Many possibilities.


This is all bad law enforcement. I asked the commanding officer of my counties version of a swat unit about swatting. To sum up his response. We have never been involved in swatting. It would never happen because a police officer would verify the situation before we even get there.
Leaving me to believe If someone is swatted, it should be a head hunt. You start with firing the commanding office of the unit, then figure out if the chief of police also needs to go. If it happens after that they you just have to terminate all members of the swatt team. We can’t employ law enforcement officers that stupid, its a danger to everyone.

A man whose bid to become a police officer was rejected after he scored too high on an intelligence test has lost an appeal in his federal lawsuit against the city.

I have no idea if this happens often, but even when it only happened once is one of the more sad stories about the state of the US police.


Oh, I have a damned good reason:

If unarmed non-threatening white women already in police custody are now potential victims, then everyone else must be “fair game” in the minds of LEOs.