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What the surge in swatting calls means for police

So-called “swatting” calls have been fatal on all too many occasions

In mid-February someone called 911 in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina claiming to be Robert McCord, a reserve officer with the department. The caller told dispatchers he’d just shot his wife and was going to kill the rest of the people in the house. Police responded as one might imagine they would respond to such a call—they sent in SWAT to ensure the safety of innocents. McCord exited his home with hands held high above his head, walking slowly toward responders. The incident ended with nobody injured, but so-called “swatting” calls have been fatal on all too many occasions. In this podcast segment, Jim and Doug discuss what can be done to prevent swatting as well as how police investigate and charge people for making swatting calls.

What is swatting

“Swatting” is a criminal harassment tactic where someone makes a deceptive 9-1-1 call to law enforcement, typically claiming a critical and immediate incident, such as a hostage situation, shooting, or other violent crime, at someone else’s address. This, unfortunately, leads to an emergency response, often by SWAT teams, to an unsuspecting person’s residence. The intent of swatting is usually to intimidate or provoke a dramatic, potentially dangerous police response against the target.

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Policing Matters law enforcement podcast with host Jim Dudley features law enforcement and criminal justice experts discussing critical issues in policing