Sen. Linares: Colchester “Swatting” Incident Points to Need for Stronger Penalties (Channel 3 Video)

September 30, 2014

Article and Video as it Appeared on WFSB3

WFSB 3 Connecticut

HARTFORD, CT (WFSB) – A rash of swatting incidents in Connecticut has prompted state lawmakers to create stiffer penalties for those found guilty.

The Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection called “swatting” a falsely reported incident where troopers, police and other first responders rush to non-existent scenes.

The most recent incident happened in Colchester on Monday where police responded to a fake hostage incident at a home. The home, however, was vacant and the call was deemed a hoax.

“The Colchester incident was evidence of a growing problem in Connecticut and across the country,” said Dr. Dora B. Schriro, commissioner of the DESPP. “These false calls for help are criminal acts that take our much-needed first responders away from critical duties and deplete scarce resources. Keeping the public safe is our core commitment. We will investigate all swatting incidents and arrest those who commit this crime.”

A similar incident shut down the campus of Yale University and the surrounding area in New Haven last November. A man from Westbrook was charged.

Officials said such calls are criminal acts and include possible felonies. That meant they carry serious penalties.

Several other states have “swatting” laws, like California, which make those responsible pay for the cost of responding to a hoax.

State Sen. Art Linares, who represents Colchester, said Connecticut needs to have specific laws to get tough on these pranks.

“They (emergency responders) are rushing to what they think is an emergency, it puts their lives at risk. It’s completely wrong and I think that anyone that is involved with swatting or making these false calls should have to reimburse the police department for all of the costs,” Linares said.

They said there are no national statistics on the number of hoaxes crews have responded to, but first responders must treat all calls as if they are genuine.

“Our Troopers are on patrol 24 hours a day, standing by for any emergency,” said Col. Brian Meraviglia, with the state police. “Responding to false alarms takes them away from legitimate calls for help and wastes valuable manpower.”