Swat the swatters

The recent case of a fake call to 911 to report a shooting in Northwest Ottawa County brings to light the problem of perhaps too soft of a penalty for the crime.
Aug 27, 2014

 

Emergency personnel rushed to a home in Robinson Township on the evening of Aug. 13, only to find there was no incident. It was all a hoax perpetrated by someone from out of the area apparently unknown to the homeowners.

According to the police report, a teenager in the home was playing an online game with gamers from outside of the area. At one point, one of the gamers threatened to “swat” the Robinson Township home.

Shortly after that, Ottawa County Central Dispatch received a call transferred from the Grand Rapids Police Department, saying there was a shooting at the Robinson Township home.

It’s called “swatting,” as in calling in a police S.W.A.T. (special weapons and tactics) team.

These hoaxes are a huge waste of resources. They put innocent people at risk by having police officers descend on their home, often with weapons drawn. And it puts officers at risk as they must respond without hesitation to such a potentially dangerous situation.

The FBI says people who engage in this activity often use technology to make it appear that the emergency call is coming from the victim’s phone, or at least nearby.

“Sometimes swatting is done for revenge, sometimes as a prank,” according to a 2013 FBI report. “Either way, it is a serious crime, and one that has potentially dangerous consequences.”

It’s similar to the phony radio distress calls to the Coast Guard. But, now and then, the perpetrator gets caught and faces stiff penalties.

The Associated Press reported in May that an Atlantic Beach, N.C., man pleaded guilty in federal court to making a false distress call to the Coast Guard. Authorities said Homer Lewis Blackburn, 27, used a CB radio mounted to the balcony of his apartment to call the Coast Guard that he was abandoning his sinking boat. Blackburn then thought it was big fun to watch the ensuing search.

The Coast Guard said the search cost emergency agencies more than $288,000.

Blackburn now faces a maximum sentence of six years in prison, a $250,000 fine and restitution of the Coast Guard's costs. Big fun, eh?

Should the “swatter” in the recent Robinson Township case get caught and convicted, what’s the penalty? In Michigan, it’s just a misdemeanor: up to 93 days in jail and/or a $500 fine. Such a crime resulting in an injury makes it a felony and real prison time, heavy fines and restitution.

However, a crime across state lines can involve the FBI and make it a federal charge. The FBI in 2009 caught a 19-year-old Massachusetts man who was involved in a cross-state “swatting” ring, and he was sentenced to federal prison for more than 11 years.

Like the penalties for fake maritime distress calls, those committing “swatting” crimes should be swatted more heavily by the long arm of the law — whether it crosses state lines or not. Sentences imposed on those convicted of the crime should be consistent and involve serious prison time, heavy fines and restitution to the communities that were robbed by their stupid behavior.

This is not child’s play, and it certainly shouldn’t be treated as such.

Our Views reflects the majority opinion of the members of the Grand Haven Tribune editorial board: Kevin Hook, Cheryl Welch, Matt DeYoung, Alex Doty, Fred VandenBrand and Mark Brooky. What do you think? E-mail us a letter to the editor to news@grandhaventribune.com or log-in to our website and leave a comment below.

Comments

AnonGHOPS

Listen up everyone, especially you Alphabet Agency snoops, ‘cause we don’t throw this statement out lightly nor is it common of our nature. We all love a good laugh, & pranks are known to be one of our fortes (lulz), but we cannot sit back on this. So laugh it up Alphabets ‘cause it’s –1 internets for us. We cannot say police the police if we do not police our own; “our own” referring to our fellow denizens & NOT fellow “Anons”. TRUE ANONS DO NOT PRACTICE SWATTING! The internet is our home, & no one messes with our home.

“These hoaxes are a huge waste of resources. They put innocent people at risk by having police officers descend on their home, often with weapons drawn. And it puts officers at risk as they must respond without hesitation to such a potentially dangerous situation.”

You are absolutely right & we couldn’t agree more. Lulz aside, this kind of “prank” is NOT funny, at all. Messing around with online games, prank calling radio stations, sending pizzas, hookers, & industrial pallets to Neo Nazis houses, screwing with Alphabet Agency snoops, Etc. is a far cry from Swatting. A lot of communities are strapped as for their budget as is. LEOs don’t need to put others lives or their own in danger, or waste their time & inadvertently scare innocent people. People should not have to live in fear of this kind of nonsense. Little kids should not be afraid to play their video games (though they should get outside more… -1 internets again). Any action an individual takes where the direct outcome could cause an innocent life to cease is NOT a prank. It’s a disgusting crime & nothing more than the actions of a severely disturbed individual.

“Like the penalties for fake maritime distress calls, those committing “swatting” crimes should be swatted more heavily by the long arm of the law — whether it crosses state lines or not. Sentences imposed on those convicted of the crime should be consistent and involve serious prison time, heavy fines and restitution to the communities that were robbed by their stupid behavior. This is not child’s play, and it certainly shouldn’t be treated as such.”

Well put. Further more the parents of these individuals (if they are underage) should be mandated to take counseling on better parenting, though they would probably have some kind of “Affluenza” issue. If the individual responsible for Swatting is not a minor then they should have a mandatory psychological examination. This kind of behavior is not normal or acceptable for a mature & civilized individual.

To the local teen who got Swatted… chin up. This was not your fault. Some people just can’t “hack it” in real life, so they do this kind of garbage. Game on kid. Game on.

We Are Anonymous. Expect Us.

LINKS ON “SWATTING:
GAWKER: Open Up Your Wireless Network to Prevent SWAT Raids Like This One
http://gawker.com/5922389/open-u...
FBI: The Crime of ‘Swatting’ - Fake 9-1-1 Calls Have Real Consequences
http://www.fbi.gov/news/stories/...

Some things don’t seem hard enough, & others may be too harsh…
ARE THESE SENTENCES BELOW TOO STRONG?
BUSINESS INSIDER: Hacker Who Helped Expose Steubenville Could Get More Prison Time Than The 2 Convicted Rapists
http://www.businessinsider.com/a...
HUFFINGTON POST: Jeremy Hammond Sentenced To 10 Years In Prison
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/20...
VICE: Why Is Barrett Brown Facing 100 Years in Prison?
http://www.vice.com/en_ca/read/w...
HUFFINGTON POST: 'PayPal 14' Plea Deal Lets Hacktivists Avoid Felonies, Which Is Pretty Much The Best They Could Hope For
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/20...

For more information on arrested “Anons” &/or how you can help, please go here:
THE ANONYMOUS SOLIDARITY NETWORK
http://freeanons.org/

We Are Anonymous. Expect Us.

Wolverine49457

If you report a phony shooting the penalty is they shoot you in the leg or foot to make it legit.

AnonGHOPS

Lulz
+1 internetz 4 u

 

Post a Comment

Log in to your account to post comments here and on other stories, galleries and polls. Share your thoughts and reply to comments posted by others. Don't have an account on GrandHavenTribune.com? Create a new account today to get started.