The Seattle Police Department is taking some active measures to combat “swatting,” the practice of calling in fake threats to send law enforcement and emergency responders to an unsuspecting person’s home. It’s created a registry so residents can provide potentially important information to the database which can be accessed by a local 911 center.
“[Swatting] is a deliberate and malicious act that creates an environment of fear and unnecessary risk, and in some cases, has led to loss of life,” according to the Seattle police.
The department’s solution is to have people create profiles via a third-party service called Rave Facility and note their swatting concerns there. That could include information like the fact that they have a high-profile job that might lead to fake 911 calls. Then, a 911 dispatcher can check for that information and share it with responding officers.
Seattle police already has a similar profile service called Smart 911. It lets people create web-based profiles to alert authorities about potential issues, like if a family member is deaf or has a medical condition. But, that data is tied to a phone number and not an address, so Seattle police turned to Rave Facility for help. Designed as a counterpart to Smart 911, it’s specifically used for commercial and residential properties.
Emergency response times won’t be affected, the police department said, and information submitted to Rave Facility will remain confidential.
“At the same time, if information is available, it is more useful for responding officers to have it than to not,” it said.
While anyone can be a target of swatting, it’s especially a problem in the video game industry and the online streaming community. Earlier this year, an argument between two “Call of Duty” players led to the swatting and fatal shooting of a third man in Wichita Kan. The two gamers, 18-year-old Casey Viner and 19-year-old Shane Gaskill, were later indicted by a federal grand jury and charged with wire fraud, conspiracy to make a false report, obstruction of justice, and conspiracy to obstruct justice. A third man, 25-year old Tyler Barriss, was also charged at the state level for manslaughter and at the federal level for making a false report, cyberstalking, making interstate threats, and more.