Oh, teens. Teens and their fads, from Satanism to vodka-soaked tampons; there is no doubt that being between 13 and 19 means you're a drunk, sexually active follower of Lucifer on your way to a rainbow party.
However, the Los Angeles Times would prefer we all worry about teens prank-calling 911 and getting authorities to send a SWAT team to an address of their choosing. This, concerned adults, is known as "SWATing." And last week it happened to pre-Justin Bieber tween musical object of worship, now gay-rights-fan and stoner, Miley Cyrus.
That is undoubtedly a gross waste of resources, as the LA Times blog notes. What they forget to note is that it could also kill someone. Reason knows you know many SWAT/militarization of police horror stories, but the LA Times seems not to notice that this is a bigger problem than unruly teens. (Or a bigger problem than conservative bloggers getting SWATed, which is how the term came to many people's attention earlier this summer.)
It quasi-self-aware style, the LA Times writes:
The thing with SWAT-ting, apparently, is that it's too easy, especially for the ... ... overindulged, bratty, unbearable kids of today who have way too much free time.
The folks from the site uKnowKids sent us a handy primer on this devious activity, noting that teens can easily mask their phone numbers via services such as Spoofcard. This and other apps also let them change their voices.
This is, then, way too much technology for the LAPD.
Seriously, though: Calling out rifle-toting officers and a chopper to a celebrity's house costs money and takes resources away from other communities.
They also quote an"internet safety expert" who warns:
"Many teens who engage in online gaming, chat rooms or social media may be at risk. Miley Cyrus and a few politicians have already been victims of this vengeful act."
California, perhaps, is less likely to have a moment where a puzzled, armed homeowner gets taken out by nervous cops. But it has happened during "legitimate" drug raids in Florida, Georgia, and other places. And the teen horrors! element to this, even if really a trend (which seems dubious, because moral panics nearly always are), is not the point. Hopefully parents have taught their 13-plus-year-old that it's seriously not okay to mess with emergency services. If they haven't, that's a problem already (and they're looking at serious punishment if caught), but it's a problem made worse with the ease in which SWAT teams are deployed in the U.S. So why not focus, even a little, on that aspect instead of hand-wringing over teens and tech?
Because worrying about teens is just always going to be more fun than worrying about the police pulling out your tampon during a strip search after you allegedly rolled through a stop light. If that womean had been a teen, perhaps the officers would have just been checking to see if her tampon were vodka-soaked.
As usual, this is not new, it's simply being reported as part of a trend. SWATing has, according to 911dispatch.com, happened about 65 times in the past decade. Regular readers need not be reminded that real, dangerous SWAT raids happen about 150 times a day. Wouldn't it be great if we could start a moral panic about that?