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What is 'swatting' and how is law enforcement trained to tackle it?

Posted at 1:27 PM, Apr 08, 2019
and last updated 2019-04-08 13:29:45-04

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — It's a term that's not commonly thrown around, but gamers are all-too-familiar with it. Now, one Western New York police department is investigating two possible incidents of "swatting."

According to, swatting is when someone reports a false emergency to public safety officials with the intention of getting a SWAT team to respond to another location. Swatting incidents usually target a specific person at that location.

The person or party that calls often says that they are witnessing or involved in an active shooter or hostage situation. Authorities confront the situation, often with an armed SWAT team, only to learn that it was all a hoax.

The Town of Tonawanda Police dealt with two swatting incidents recently. One of the swatting incidents happened this past weekend.

Unfortunately, these calls are hard to differentiate from actual situations. If the emergency dispatcher can keep the caller on the line, authorities can gather additional information about the caller.

If officials determine that a swatting situation has occurred, an investigation will take place. Authorities will gather as much information from the call, and criminal charges can follow.

Swatting isn't something new. Back in the 1970's, the term 'phone phreakers' was coined when a small group of people hacked into the phone companies and made long-distance calls.