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Militarization of Police Helps Feed SWAT Call Pranks

And if they had shot somebody, the swatter would be blamed and nothing else would happen.Screen shot"Swatting" has been highlighted in the press when celebrities have been targeted, but that's only part of the story. Tech-savvy pranksters have called the police claiming to be at a home or building engaged in violence, sometimes claiming to have shot other people and threatening even more violence. But it's a scam, and police send SWAT teams out to respond in force to peaceful people living their lives and put everybody at risk.

Though the swatting of celebrities gets much more attention, they aren't the only targets. Popular gamers who have YouTube or Twitch channels have also been targeted. These Internet celebrities may be unknown to the general populace, but many of them have thousands—even millions—of fans, and gaming is obviously a popular recreation for technophiles, even the sinister hacker types.

Furthermore, calling in a SWAT raid on a gamer who streams play online may result in the raid being captured live on web cam, something the swatter probably finds even more amusing. That's exactly what happened Wednesday to Jordan "Kootra" Mathewson of Littleton, Colorado. His streamed session of Counter-Strike at his studio in an office building was interrupted when a SWAT raid came storming in. Alt weekly Westword posted the contents of a press release detailing what the swatter told the police:

Littleton Police received a 911 call at 11:27 am this morning reporting a shooting and hostages at 1221 W. Mineral Avenue. Littleton Police, Littleton Fire Rescue and law enforcement from multiple agencies responded. There were no victims discovered after the initial search of the building by entry teams. A second search of the building confirmed that there were no victims and no shots fired at the location. Police are questioning several employees of the office building who are cooperating with investigators.

Nearby schools and buildings were all evacuated.

Here's the video below. Take note of how they treat Mathewson (and what happens when they discover they're being streamed live on the Internet):

I suppose it's a "training issue" that police officers for some reason believe "acting like a threatening asshole to any other human being you encounter" is synonymous with "gaining control of a situation." These reactions are exactly the kinds of things swatters are hoping for. Because the police have developed this reputation for violent, over-the-top reactions to everything, they are actually reinforcing the value of using swatting as a way to torment others.

The defense would be, "What if it were real?" The police can't simply ignore these calls. In a sad irony, these are actually the kinds of calls that SWAT teams were invented to help deal with. But I suspect that's one of the reasons that inspire such an explosive, credulous response from police. Data shows that SWAT raids are hardly ever used for actual hostage situations any more. Every real hostage or violent situation where the police can play the heroes can be used as a counterargument to calls for police demilitarization.

As much as law enforcement agencies complain about the growth of hackers instigating unjustified SWAT raids, their own stormtrooper mentality of responding to every single interaction with the public certainly doesn't help matters.

Photo Credit: screen shot

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  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Does every cop mind default to stop any video evidence?

  • ||

    C'mon Fist, you know if you aren't doing anything bad and don't have anything to hide ....

    Wait. How does that work again?

  • Notorious G.K.C.||

    I would have thought their reaction would be, "oh, good, there's a video record of our professionally correct, legal behavior. This will prevent anyone from filing false charges against us!"

  • Notorious G.K.C.||

    "And we can use it to show the public how well we behave!"

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    It looks like they switched it off just as the one casually dressed law enforcement professional started getting indignant about why the gamer didn't respond to their verbal commands at first. (He's answered that he was wearing headphones.)

  • Free Society||

    I wonder what would've happened if he said "Because you're a prick"

  • sarcasmic||

    No need to wonder. He would have gotten the shit kicked out of him and charged with assault on a police officer. Because saying things that cops don't like is considered to be assault.

  • some guy||

    I thought bruising an officers knuckles was the assault. Saying things they don't like is disturbing the peace or interfering with police work or whatever.

  • ||

    Bleeding on his uniform is also assault, and destruction of police property.

  • Free Society||

    It was more of a rhetorical question but yeah. The Judge might say "You are charged with interfering with police duties, obstruction of justice and hurting a police officer's wittle feelings."

    I mean what a class of crybaby thugs. A normal person is insulted, they may return the favor and then move on. Cops though, get pissy, punitive and retaliate using the force of the state. They are every bit the low-rent scum they claim to protect us all from. But worse yet they are low-rent scum with state power.

  • Torontonian||

    For a couple of years while I was in the Navy, one of my jobs was as the second officer on my ship's boarding party. My primary role on the team was "witnessing officer"... armed with a digital video camera (in addition to my Sig P225 and HK MP5) my responsibility was to be the second person on board the vessel we were boarding and make a video record of as much of the interaction as possible.

    Every single person on my team was strongly in favour of of having the camera present and running, primarily to protect themselves against false allegations of inappropriate behaviour or excessive use of force.

    Plus, the crews of the ships we were boarding were much more cooperative when they saw they were being video taped.

    In my experience, cameras make everyone behave better.

  • ||

    Does every cop mind default to stop any video evidence?

    Off course not. That one bald pig searched pictures of that guys cell phone without warrant or cause.

  • Invisible Finger||

    If they're innocent they have nothing to hide.

  • RightNut||

    Not the first time this has happened, this dude was swatted well streaming a few months back

    Also you should interact with your twitch chat well you stream.

  • Scott S.||

    Was that you? I sent you a message in Twitch. I only have one monitor. I try to remember to tab over every few minutes to see if anybody has commented, but it had been a very quiet session and I stopped looking toward the end.

  • RightNut||

    Yes, sorry I usually don't check messages often.

  • ||

    I need to get double indemnity on my life insurance for being shot by a cop. I can't see myself being as calm as that kid if the goons stormed into my office.

    I would never have just sat there cuffed either. I would have gone all Doug Piranha on their ass and used sarcasm, parody and mocking of them while I sat there.

  • sarcasmic||

    I'm sure that being shot by a cop counts as suicide, and invalidates the policy.

  • Juice||

    "Well, it looks like you fools have been duped again. Way to go, geniuses."

  • ||

    Someone needs to at least try and sue the fuckers for storming violently onto their property without the slightest bit of real evidence. If a phone call is all it takes to give them permission to stormtrooper the shit out of your property, then they really need no evidence at all. I mean, the fact that they bust in without even doing the most basic due diligence to determine if it was anything but a prank would seem to be warranted.

    Of course, there's always Fuck You That's Why.

  • Rock Action||

    Stunning. And the people making these "pranks" are of the "break a few eggs" type, because they should know the danger within which they're placing the prankees.

  • some guy||

    Yeah, this guy heard the police coming and had his hands up before they even entered the room. Imagine if he had the volume way up and never even heard them order him on the ground. He would have been tackled or worse, with injuries likely.

  • ||

    Odds are they would have heard loud gunfire and opened fire themselves.

  • Rich||

    Obviously "swatting" warrants the death penalty.

  • ant1sthenes||

    Well, it should be considered attempted murder.

  • tarran||

    I know you think you are making a profound point, but it really boils down to someone should try to knock down that wall by pounding it with their penis.

    There is no point to suing, because the legal doctrine that equates to FYTW is well litigated. All that happens is that the cops will decide they hate the plaintiff and start harassing him in a million petty ways, while the judge dismisses the charges and the appellate court declines the appeals.

  • some guy||

    If you're going to do what Episiarch or Jimbo suggest you have to be willing to immediately move out of their jurisdiction.

  • Free Society||

    Officer: "We believed that the suspect was engaged in a crime, so we sodomized his dog, stole his wallet and searched his computer for things unrelated to our purpose there, so as to charge him with something, anything, that will net a win for the judicial system."

    Judge: "Fine police work."

  • ||

    The call is coming from inside your house the police station!

  • straffinrun||

    Moe from the Simpsons handles prank calls more professionally than these cops.

    "Hello, 911? Yeah, there's a Polly State running rampant in my neighborhood."

    "Do you have a description of the suspect?"

    "Yeah, he's a fat fucking loser, that couldn't get laid in High School".

  • Free Society||

    Cops are incapable of not being a bunch of pricks. They can't even ask the guy questions without being pricks. Then the guy's phone rings and the cop just takes it upon himself to snatch it up, no evidence of a crime mind you.

  • some guy||

    We need a law against police manipulating other peoples' video recorders in any way, too. If they want the data, they have to subpoena it or ask nicely. Even covering a camera should be illegal.

  • Jordan||

    Somebody should start swatting the homes of cops.

  • some guy||

    Then the cops would start cross-referencing all swat calls with their HR database. Eventually a cop actually does need a SWAT response at his home and it is ignored.

    But no lessons are learned, of course.

  • ||

    I think it would be more effective to Swat the homes of politicians.

  • ||

    How about swatting the fundraisers of politicians.

    Imagine how awesome it would have been if the SWAT team descended on that steak house that Eric Cantor liked to use for his fund raisers.

    Bonus points for also using civil forfeiture to grab all that dough the fat cats were giving to the pol.

  • Reverend Draco||

    I was just thinking the same thing. . . but including the head honcho of the local police union, the mayor, city council members. . .

  • Rich||

    Take note of ... what happens when they discover they're being streamed live on the Internet

    Expected to see some *real* rock and roll. I am disappoint.

  • Toki Wartooth||

    k.kaprow 7 minutes ago
    Swatters should be publicly castrated and put in a dark cell for the rest of their miserable lives, and their apologists, like anarcho-libertarian Scott Shackford, a propagandist for Reason.com, who coddles the swatting criminals -- describing them as "tech-savvy pranksters" -- deserves to be swatted himself, preferably by a falling piano.

    I think you have a admirer Shackleford.

  • Jordan||

    That's Mary.

  • Rich||

    I suppose the "falling piano" bit gave it away.

  • Scott S.||

    Musical instruments are among the items the DOD has been handing out to law enforcement agencies, so it is a possibility.

  • Swiss Servator, Bern baby Bern||

    Nice.

  • Will4Freedom||

    Some day these pranksters are going to prank the wrong people and someone is going to get hurt.

    Mob meeting... radical islamists... FBI Safe house.... MS-13...

    Ouch.

  • ant1sthenes||

    Well, assuming the swatters can hide their identities well enough, not them. But sending a bunch of cops storming into an ISIS meet and greet would quite possibly result in much lulz, however it turns out.

  • MegaloMonocle||

    Howsabout:

    No SWAT raids can be conducted based on anonymous or untraceable calls or evidence?

    If the SWATties can't even confirm the source of their "exigent circs/reasonable suspicion", how can it be exigent or reasonable?

  • Invisible Finger||

    How about we just get rid of SWAT completely? The whole purpose of SWAT was to justify extreme state-sponsored violence on flimsy evidence.

    Recent hostage situations are handled without SWAT just fine. Even in egregiously incompetent police departments like Harvey, IL.

  • Free Society||

    but but but but but LA criminal dudes with body armor and stuff! Case closed.

  • Cliché Bandit||

    No Hat Tip?

    Thanks SLACKford!

  • ||

    "SWATing" someone should be a felony.

    It's not just a "crank call", it's putting someone's life in jeopardy, and subjecting them to an armed home invasion. The fact that you manipulate agents of the state shouldn't matter. It should be prosecuted as reckless endangerment or assault, and if someone gets killed it should be prosecuted as second degree homoicide or manslaughter.

  • blackjack||

    That's true, only given the cops
    's willingness to invade anybody on a "tip" from just about anybody, for any reason. This same mentality led to the tipster in Pasadena (who claimed an auto burglar was armed to get better response times) being charged with murder because the cops automatically shot the guy. When do we expect some adult behavior from these "heroes?"

    Over-reacting, invading homes, shooting people, falsely imprisoning them and generally terrorizing them on just the word of an anonymous caller should be a felony.

  • pan fried wylie||

    From the people who brought you Roomba: The Autoburglar.

  • ||

    They should definitely do something to verify the situation is authentic. Such as knocking on the door and politely asking to come in before busting it down.

  • Knarf Yenrab!||

    Such as knocking on the door and politely asking to come in before busting it down

    That's precisely the kind of pro-private-property hippie shit we'd expect to hear from anarchists like HazelStone.

  • ||

    "SWATing" someone should be a felony.

    I agree, file charges against the cops immediately.

  • Lawman45||

    Like roaches these SWAT officers seem to prefer to do their business off camera and in secret. Did they learn this from the KGB or the NYPD?

  • Lawman45||

    Anonymous tips are inherently UNreliable. They should never be the basis for any warrant or other police action.

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