With the recent proliferation of "SWATting" pranks with high profile victims like Brian Krebs and Wolf Blitzer, is there anything Fairfax County can do to protect us from being assaulted by our own police? What is Fairfax doing to confirm the validity of information provided by 911 callers? What should a victim of a SWATting incident do?
Matt, SWATting 9-1-1 calls have been in the news frequently, particularly on the West Coast where many celebrities have been "SWATted." Fairfax has experienced two such calls lately, and the media reported one in Montgomery County Saturday evening. A person making a SWATting call could be located anywhere in the world and through technology available to them can make the call appear, by phone number and address, as if it were coming from an address in Fairfax County. Our 9-1-1 call takers are very proficient in soliciting information from callers; however, in a SWATting call, they're not actually speaking with a SWATter. The SWATter is communicating by text through a TTY method commonly used by the hearing impaired community. Consequently, when we ask questions of the SWATter, a TTY relay service is the intermediary. As was the case in Montgomery County on Saturday, an astute 9-1-1 supervisor recognized the call as suspicious. As in Fairfax County's experience, the information provided by the SWATter raised enough concern that appropriate checks were made to ensure the public's and officer safety before entering the location reported.