This morning, I checked out Global News and found a story from Burnaby, BC. Yesterday, the Metrotown Mall was evacuated by RCMP officers following a report of shots being fired and Sky Train Station was evacuated and searched by Vancouver Transit Officers after a report of pipe bombs. Shortly thereafter, Port Moody Police were called to investigate unspecified issues at Seaview Elementary School.
All three emergency calls were found to be unsubstantiated and all three are being investigated as cases of ‘swatting‘ – deliberate calls to emergency services to report fabricated incidents of bomb threats, hostage situations, gunfire or the like.
The consequences of these fabricated reports are panic, disorder, and trauma for targets and bystanders. Physical injury and deaths have occurred in the chaos. There is stress, high cost, and a tremendous waste of resources for law enforcement agencies involved. There are legal consequences for those caught ‘swatting’ including heavy fines to cover emergency services costs, plus potential jail time.
Emergency services and law enforcement have long been aware of ‘swatting incidents’. They have training to identify the possibility of such incidents in order to modify their response. In Seattle, they have created an anti-swatting registry to track those who have reason to suspect that they could be the target of a ‘swatting’ vendetta. Potential individual targets, most often gamers (of such games as Call of Duty, Counter Strike, and DOTA), celebrities, and journalists have been warned of the threat of ‘swatting’ and been advised how to keep one’s true identity and whereabouts safely offline. Potential fines and jail time for perpetrators of ‘swatting’ have been dramatically increased to discourage this practice.
My views on ‘Swatting’ –
- While ‘swatting’ in Canada is rare compared to other countries, specifically the USA, it is still important for Canadians to be aware of these incidents – especially if one is in a group that is vulnerable to such attacks
- Young people need to be aware of the consequences of ‘swatting’. Filing false reports of any nature, for any reason, can result in serious fines and/ or jail time. ‘Swatting’ is never considered a harmless prank. (Nor should it be).
- People need to consider ‘swatting’ and such incidents when they are discussing taxes that cover the ever increasing cost of law enforcement. It is easy to complain about the high cost of taxes, but we must consider all reasons for the increased costs and look for solutions to such costly trends.
- If one becomes the target of a ‘swatting’ situation or finds themselves in the midst of a situation such as the Burnaby Mall or Sky Train Station evacuation, remain calm & follow instructions of law enforcement. Be mentally prepared for such situations. They can, and do, happen. Always in such situations, you have the power to make things better or make things worse – not only for yourself, but for those around you.
That is it for my news and views of the day. Respectful comments are welcome in the section below.
Take care and have a great day! 💞