Another swatting incident warrants massive response from deputies

DARIEN, N.Y. (WIVB) — It’s obviously illegal to call dispatchers about something false, and it’s a strain on local law enforcement and a danger to the community.

An example of this took place Monday when authorities out of Genesee County responded to the Town of Darien after a caller reached out to Monroe County dispatchers on a non-emergency line, claiming there was a homicide and the potential for a suicide, they said.

Due to uncertainty over the address of the alleged incident, emergency responses took place in both Genesee and Orleans counties. Genesee County deputies checked and cleared residences on County Line in Darien.

“I think the danger to the community is evident,” Genesee County Chief Deputy Joseph Graff said.

These types of calls, known by the informal term “swatting,” have also been prevalent in schools across the country, including here in Western New York. Cambridge Dictionary defines swatting as “the action of making a false report of a serious emergency so that a SWAT team will go to a person’s home, by someone who wants to frighten, upset or cause problems for that person.”

Why ‘swatting’ calls to US schools are becoming a big concern

The varied calls have ranged from people claiming bombs in buildings to reports of shootings.

Back in April, Sen. Chuck Schumer came to Lockport to talk about a three-part plan to address the hoax calls. He said that days before, on March 30, there were 36 false reports of mass shooting incidents, triggering police responses to more than 220 schools in the state. Among them were Lockport High School and South Park High School.

According to a News Nation report on swatting in the United States, the Anti-Defamation League says estimates of these calls jumped from 400 in 2011 to more than 1,000 in 2019.

Schumer, while in Niagara County, proposed giving the F.B.I. $10 million to investigate and handle swatting incidents.

“The bottom line is that Americans need to know who is committing these attacks and ensuring that criminals know that if they commit these heinous acts that they will be held accountable is one of the strongest deterrents,” Schumer said. “That starts with making sure the FBI has the resources it needs [to] bring people to justice swiftly and that the data is being collected to curb this unique disturbing trend.”

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Evan Anstey is an Associated Press Award, JANY Award and Emmy-nominated digital producer who has been part of the News 4 team since 2015. See more of his work here and follow him on Twitter.

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