Law Enforcement Response to Swatting
Category: Law Enforcement
Gordon Graham here with Today’s Tip from Lexipol. Today’s Tip is about fake calls to provoke a police response – also known as “swatting.”
Swatting victims are often associated with the tech and video game industry or the broadcasting community.
Swatting occurs when a person makes a false report, often through 9-1-1, that elicits a tactical response from law enforcement. The person making the call intends to frighten, upset, or even hurt their intended target. Swatting can be extremely dangerous to both innocent citizens and law enforcement officers.
Swatting victims are often associated with the tech and video game industry or the broadcasting community. Victims may also be targeted for political reasons. Swatting attacks can also stem from online bullying, extortion or even boredom.
So, folks, what’s to be done about swatting calls? The solution lies in preparing your officers AND your community members.
Train personnel to recognize the signs of potential hoax calls. These include unusual accents or missing details about the incident location. Tactical officers should be trained to – when possible – slow down and compare the information from the 9-1-1 call with what they’re observing in person.
But these efforts are incomplete without involving your community. To make a swat call, a hoaxer needs a physical address. Use public education campaigns to encourage folks to reduce the amount of personal information they post online. You can also suggest gamers use a virtual private network – or VPN – to prevent attackers from tracing their IP address.
One city even launched a voluntary system that flags the addresses of people who believe they could be the target of a swatting scheme. An alert is provided to responding officers without delaying response.
The last part of the equation: collecting and analyzing data following swatting incidents. This helps us understand the reasons behind swatting calls and develop protocols to help prevent future incidents.
Building law enforcement awareness about swatting is paramount. But to solve this problem, we need community involvement, too.
And that’s Today’s Tip from Lexipol. Until next time, Gordon Graham signing off.