9-1-1 is an emergency number, and is meant to be used for any real emergency someone might have; because of this fact the operators are taught to take every call seriously. However some people don’t get this concept and use 9-1-1 for purposes that don’t have good intentions, this is one of those purposes.
With the rise of the internet and social media many people feel as though they can do anything they want over the internet; this has caused many problems with hackers and people being very hostile over the internet. One of the main sources of these is online competitiveness. Many games nowadays are competitive and have an online versus mode of some type, and some people take this too seriously sometimes. Enter people who call themselves “pranksters”. One way people like to rid of their anger is through pranks, one of the latest pranks is called “Swatting”, and it is not what you think.
Unless you already know what it really is, in which case it is what you think. Swatting is when a person finds out a target’s personal information, a lot of the time through hacking, and call the target’s local police service. Once the call is made they find a way to make their number untraceable. They do this normally through using a phone that is disposable or changing their caller ID. The Caller then report that the target is doing something highly illegal, on some occasions even pretending to be the target. Their goal in this is to make the SWAT team go to the target’s house and, I’m not even sure. Once the SWAT team arrives that’s about where I question how it’s supposed to be a prank.
The whole thing just seems like a dumb idea to begin with. Once the SWAT team gets there, what happens? The target’s going to get scared and thats it. People who do this don’t realize how much of a risk this really is. To start there are much more important matters the SWAT teams can attend to. What would happen if there was a real emergency across town. Because of this some problem could be escalating and the people that are supposed to stop it are all the way across town, attending to someone’s cruel idea of a laugh.
Second, this wastes an unbelievable amounts of money, up to $10,000. If the prankster gets caught they would be charged the full costs. The worst part about the cost is that this money is being taking straight from taxes we pay. The pay the SWAT team members receive is from our tax dollars, and now it’s being wasted on a joke.
Lastly, this “prank” puts many lives at risk. The officers involved are trained to obtain a successful mission at all costs; once they think there is a real problem, they don’t hold back. This also puts in risk the target.
So lets play this out. Jim is an ordinary guy, 21, just out of college for the weekend and enjoying himself with some Call of Duty. He is doing very good but manages to make 17 year-old Steve angry. Steve, being the bright person he is, gets his hacking stuff ready, finds out Jim’s address, hides his number and calls Jim’s local police station. Now at this point Jim may or may not know that Steve is angry at him, that however doesn’t matter, Jim isn’t worried about anything happening, he’s just doing good at a game. Next thing you know the SWAT team arrives at Jim’s house. They break open the back door and glass shaters everywhere. Jim hears this and gets up and runs out to see what happened. Jim is now on the floor; just another victim of a cruel, strange, and pointless joke.
This prank needs to stop before it gets worse; and for those of you who think this can’t happen around here, a recent of this happened in North Fayette. The incident happened in August, 2014. The target was the son of Dale Hoag, 53. The caller pretended to be Dale Hoag and said he shot someone. ¨They thought I killed my Mother.” Said Hoag. Lt. Michael Hamm of North Fayette Police said that around 20 to 30 people showed up to see what was happening out of curiosity; any of these people could have gotten hurt. The problem was solved in a halve-hour, but the person who made the call were not found. The call itself was made about 10:15 pm August 3rd. The called had given enough information to make officers take the call seriously. The police responded using loudspeakers and flash bangs to warn the residence inside. The officers did eventually reach the residence through an alternate phone line. The house was cleared out about 4 am Aug 4th. “The people in the address have no idea what’s going on,” Conley said. “The amount of responders that were tied up — and the cost — it’s extremely large. The one thing we can’t afford to do is have our guard down. You have to take everything seriously.” While the exact cost was not given provided by police it was very high.
This problem needs to stop before it goes any further. The fact that people see this as a joke is terrifying to me. The emergency services are for just that, EMERGENCIES! There should be no pranks involving this number. The SWAT aspect only makes it worse. When did the SWAT turn into the punchline of a joke? I could think of dozens of other pranks, why would there be a need to use this as your prank?
The next time you want to do a prank just take the time to sit and think “Is this a bad idea?” If the answer is yes, don’t do it. If the answer is no, just don’t do it anyway, it was probably still a bad idea. Here’s a prank idea for free, just send someone a shelf, it’s the most passive aggressive thing you can do.
Have a good day, thanks for reading, and do not use 9-1-1 for anything but emergencies.
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Footage from a Swatting