While it might seem like a simple prank on the surface, the act of swatting wastes the valuable time of the law enforcement and can end in tragedy more often than not. It has always been a punishable crime, however the Seattle Police Department is taking proactive measures to alleviate the struggle by introducing a dedicated resource site.
For those uninitiated with the term, swatting is the act of calling in a false threat to trigger a more aggressive response from law enforcement. Although this has gained attention from streamers having their doors inexplicably knocked down, this has also been used as a petty, senseless revenge tactic against individuals and businesses, often involving “hostages, gunfire, or other acts of extreme violence,” according to Seattle PD’s new resource bank.
Ars Technica caught wind of the site, which goes far beyond describing the term. It guides those who have concerns that they might be a potential victim, delving into a range of programs that can lend a helping hand. 911 in the US is, of course, reserved for emergencies, and while there is a non-emergency number built for less immediate crimes, it still tackles active crimes, leaving no solution for potential victims of the heinous practice.
“To our knowledge, no solution to this problem existed, so we engineered one: enter SMART 911 and Rave Mobile Safety,” explains Seattle PD. “SMART 911 provides the opportunity to create a web based profile tailored specifically to the needs of your household,” such as noting medical conditions, allergies and disabilities to cater for. Previously, SMART 911 only activated when a 911 call was triggered, however Rave Mobile Safety augments the process to allow users to register concerns that call takers can in turn warn dispatched officers about.
This comes in particularly handy to those in “the tech industry, video game industry, and/or the online broadcasting community,” which are all frequent targets of swatting. As the site explains, officers will still swiftly respond to a call, but added information while on scene will always help judgement calls.
KitGuru Says: It would be good to see similar measures make their way around other departments, and dare I say around the world despite the problem occurring much more frequently in the United States. It remains to be seen how effective Seattle PD’s efforts are, but something in place is certainly better than nothing at all.