SWAT this.

So here I am, trying to find something to comment about that meets the criterion of SF&F or geek culture in time to do my promised minimum one entry a week… That being the whole point of this Blog. Not that I haven’t seen lots of things that caused comment and observation, but those things I’ve seen have all been strictly politics and current events, which the Board of O.G. has said is beyond the scope…

Then I come across this: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/03/21/technology/online-swatting-becomes-a-hazard-for-popular-video-gamers-and-police-responders.html?smid=fb-share

Well, I never thought I would be thankful to the NYT for anything, but, Hey Thanks NYT for giving me my topic of the week.

OK so I’m fairly sure that the readers of this blog aren’t the sorts that are pulling this shit. (if I’m wrong, leave me delusional, we’ll both be happier that way) but it’s certainly a part of geek culture, and DAMN, it’s stupid. The NYT article goes into great length about how it’s expensive for the municipalities and a real hazard for the victims that are SWATed. Well that’s all very true, and the hazard for both the victims and the PD is HUGE… What’s that you say? Yeah you in the back, we’ve heard from you before, go ahead, shout it out.

“What the hell sort of hazard is there for the PD?” you ask. There’s several, first and most immediate, if a gamer is doing his thing with a motion game (IE one that uses a plastic “gun” and an optical scanner like the WII, the Xbox 360 etc… and please don’t tell me that only controller games are “real games” or only Computer games etc… That’s a fight I’m just not interested in, and based on the sales in stores there are a number of people using the motion games with first person shooters) and he hears a crash as the PD comes in “No knock”, due to some asshole’s text, the gamer is liable to get shot as he whorls around with what is designed to be, and does look like, a gun in his hand. The cop or cops that shot him are in for a world of shit. Most likely they will eventually be exonerated, (and they should be, if you tell me there’s an active shooter with hostages and a bomb strapped to his chest, and I come through the door to see a guy with a gun in a dark room spin towards me, I’m not going to wait for it to go bang) but they’re going to go through a Gods awful amount of shit, be tried in the court of public opinion, and probably lose their job even though they followed the SOPs for their department.

Then there’s the very real hazard anytime you put a lot of guys pumped with adrenalin expecting to get shot at and or blown up, out in the field. Anything from a car accident while going code to the scene, to blue on blue is possible. Are these a hazard of the job? Sure. Are they something these guys signed up for? Sure. Is it something that you should risk to get the bad guys? Absolutely. But to take those risks for some little shit to get their jollies? Uh NO.

But the biggest problem here isn’t any of those, nor is it the enormous expense to the city that it happens in. (everything from the O.T. for the reports that are going to have to be filed and the flash bang that may be expended, to the big money that the city is going to have to cough to settle the use of force law suit and the damage they cause when they break in to the house) No, the big problem is that by doing this, you’re providing intel to potential bad guys.
Anything from the prosaic; If I’m thinking of robbing a bank, knowing the response time for the local SWAT is pretty damn important, to the REALY BAD; if I’m a terrorist (anything from ISAL to the ELF) knowing the response time, weapons load out, tactics, and possibly the ID of the officers is vital to making my operation a success. Then there’s the desensitization aspect. Get the SWAT boys rolling too often on bullshit calls, they start to slack off and get careless. It’s human nature. You’re all pretty smart, I think you can see where that goes… And if the bad guy gets in on the act and SWATs someone just as he’s about to hit his target, well response time goes up, as they have to clear one call before going to the next.

The takeaway is this: We, the geek community, need to help stop this shit, and the law enforcement community needs to nail the idiots that are pulling this shit HARD. It’s worth the expense to do the work to put these little twits behind bars for a while.


About morrigan508

A retired submarine sailor and former cop, author of the John Fisher Chronicles, as well as a contributing author of the Otherwhere Gazette.

10 comments on “SWAT this.

  1. If the phone companies would make caller ID secure, they would not be able to pull this kind of thing off.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. sadly Sam, they’re sending texts through cut outs, not physical phone calls. To make it secure enough to catch them that way would be giving the government a little more control of the interwebs than I’m happy with.


  3. Not so much a “geek” thing, as “cowards who don’t value other human lives.”

    Geeks are almost always the targets, though– usual route seems to be via online contact. Patterico of Paterico’s Pontificiaions was targeted, for example.

    There’s also serious danger because there’s a decent chance that when someone breaks down a door, the person inside will shoot them.
    There was an incredibly lucky case a few months back where, unusually enough, someone that actually knew the target in person framed him for a bomb threat in a community center that has a daycare in it. The chief of police took a couple of shots in the vest that he’d just been loaned by the two county cops that were going in with him. Thank God, whatever happened, none of the cops fired.
    Look at the house, I’d guess the guy said something to the effect of “Holy ****, Chief Ross?!?! What the **** are you doing breaking into my house at two in the morning?! Holy ****!!!! Honey, don’t shoot, it’s the cops!”

    It’s part of why a lot of folks use pseudonyms.

    Unfortunately, the only solution doesn’t seem to be much pursued– nailing the swatters and hard. Attempted homicide, or whatever you call it when you deliberately set up a situation where someone is going to be in deadly danger.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Another potential threat to law enforcement is that if SWAT comes busting into a house, the occupants may not identify them as police before they seek to defend their home. It’s happened before, where law enforcement comes in and the resident starts shooting.

    And that just gets sad all over.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. It’s attempted murder. Done by (obscene characterization redacted) who are too cowardly to do their own dirty work.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. OH GODS DAMN IT. I was pissed off enough about this when it was “someone else’s problem” But now apparently (according to my local supplier of fish and chips wrappers and bird cadge liners) it’s hit my home county. Teenager up in Paulsbo got swatted yesterday, KCSO is NOT amused. someone needs slapped. in the face. by an Axe.


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