If you’re not familiar with swatting, it entails calling the police and pretending that there is an emergency (ie. a shooter endangering the lives of others). The police arrive on scene with masks, armed with rifles, and ready to address the threat head on. Recently, there have been two incidents of “swatting”, one within a home and another at a Brampton school. The impact of these calls is significant.
In the first incident, police officers barged into the residence of a family where a wife, husband and children were sleeping. The police came prepared with all their equipment based on a call claiming that a schizophrenic man had shot and killed the caller’s wife and was now hunting down his son. There was significant damage to the home as officers had to break down the door to get in and potentially save the victims. The family was petrified and was left with a hefty bill for house repairs. The police department will not provide compensation for the damage since they were merely acting in accordance to protocol. However, if the perpetrator(s) are caught, then they will be required to pay for the damages.
A second incident occurred on Monday, May 25, 2015 when someone called 911 and informed the police of an armed individual strolling Brampton streets looking to harm someone. The officers addressed the situation at the school and were forced to put an additional four schools on lock down to ensure everyone was safe. Parents, teachers, principals, authorities and students were all impacted by this one prank.
You may be surprised to learn that “swatting” isn’t a new phenomenon; in fact, it has been around for over a decade. Why haven’t we heard of it before? The authorities have attempted to keep this behaviour hidden from the public to avoid copycat behaviour. Authorities are continuing to remain tight lipped to avoid copycats. In the past, the perpetrators have often been teenage boys and were held responsible for their behaviour.
Earlier this month, a 17 year old boy from British Columbia pleaded guilty to 29 counts including: extortion, public mischief, false police reports and criminal harassment in respect to swatting matter. This youth had gone as far bragging about his prank on Twitter and challenging the RCMP to charge through his home door. In 2014, a 16 year old boy from Ottawa was arrested and charged with 60 counts of instigating a dozen swattings across North America. The ultimate reward for these boys was gloating rights on social media – I’m not sure they still think it was worth it. One may argue that the punishment is too harsh for these boys.
One may even say “boys will be boys” however, this act goes far beyond just immature behavior. Victims of swatting have experienced heart attacks, polices officers have met with accidents on their way to these hoax emergencies, damages have been incurred by home owners, significant amounts of money is lost addressing these pranks and multiple people are impacted. These pranks have serious impact on others which is why there are criminal implications for their actions.
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