Dec 1, 2011 12:33 AM by John Romero
On Wednesday a frantic 911 call came in to Colorado Springs Police. A woman told police there were two men in her home. "She believed two of the men had machine guns." explains Colorado Springs Police Spokeswoman Barbara Miller, "The next thing you know, shots are being fired."
Immediately police jumped in to action. "Of course we're sending officers to the scene. They're expediting because of the seriousness of the situation and how dangerous it is." says Miller. But not only was there no emergency, the address where the emergency was supposedly happening didn't even exist. "What we believe happened today is what they call a swatting incident." explains Miller.
Swatting is a fairly new trend of crank calling police with phony emergencies. Through either a hacked phone line or computer, a person calls in an emergency police cannot trace. In many cases, swatting is designed to distract cops while another crime is committed. That wasn't the case here, but the damage was still done. "You're taking 8 officers off the road that could be responding to someone else's emergency." says Miller.
Those phony emergency calls can quickly add up for departments. "A call like this can cost up to $10,000 for a prank." explains Miller. But it's no joking matter. Police tell us they take swatting very seriously, and will make arrests whenever they can. "We do have an investigation on-going to see if we can determine who is responsible and then hopefully charges can be filed." says Miller.
There has already been a precedent set in cases like this. A 19 year old hacker from Massachusetts is now serving 11 years in federal prison for swatting.