What is swatting?
Swatting is when a person reports a false emergency to public safety for the intent of getting a ("SWAT team") response to a location where no actual emergency exists. The calling party will often report that they are involved or nearby as a witness to a home invasion, active shooter, or hostage situation, attempting to muster the largest response possible. Often, the law enforcement response is substantial, with police confronting the unsuspecting victims at gunpoint, only to learn that there is no real emergency.
Those who attempt to cause a swatting incident use several techniques, including caller ID spoofing, TTY relay technologies, and social engineering. Communications Centers/PSAP's receiving these calls must proceed as though the call were real in case it actually is. These actors will often have a reasonable-sounding scenario, and will sometimes include personal information. These actors have various reasons for doing this. Sometimes they do it for "fun" and view it as a prank, while other times it is used as retaliation against a real or perceived issue with the victim. Several public figures and celebrities have been the victims of swatting recently.
If you, as a homeowner, is the target of a swatting incident, you should:
- Remain calm - There will be a large officer presence outside your home.
- Follow the instructions given to you - In order to provide a smooth resolution to the incident, listen carefully and follow the instructions given to you by the officers.
- Do not run towards the officers - Keep hands visible and remain still until given instructions on what to do.
- Advise officer in charge of all people currently in the residence - Let officers know of all persons in the residence and their location (basement, second floor, etc.)
REMEMBER - A swatting investigation is a response to a major crime in progress. Officers must handle the response as a real situation until they are able to make contact with the residents and verify that the call is false.