LAPD Struggles with "Swatting" Pranks

Have to treat calls seriously, but need to be careful of possibilities that they're fake


Los Angeles police are recalibrating their response to some emergency calls in light of a series of prank "swatting" calls reporting violent incidents at the homes of celebrities such as Ashton Kutcher, Justin Bieber and now Chris Brown.

Officers will continue to respond immediately, in large numbers and with force if needed, to reports of crime at the homes of such VIPs, top Los Angeles Police Department officials said. But they are trying to warn officers more quickly in cases where an emergency call appears to have the hallmarks of swatting. Swatting is a prank call reporting a violent crime that results in a tactical police response that may include a SWAT team.

Deputy Chief Debra McCarthy, who oversees the LAPD's West Bureau, said that while the number of fake 911 calls about hostages or potential deadly violence at celebrities' homes is exceedingly low, officers are being cautioned to be aware of the possibility of swatting in a bid to limit injuries or death to officers or victims because of miscommunication or confusion.