Good Swatting Story

The New York Times Magazine has a good story about swatting, centering around a Canadian teenager who did it over a hundred times.

Posted on December 14, 2015 at 5:46 AM • 27 Comments

Comments

Al DenteDecember 14, 2015 6:18 AM

The problem is not the pimply-faced teenager. The problem is poorly trained law enforcement officers operating within a hair-trigger mentality environment. Think about the mobilization effort required for dozens of military-grade troops to surround a potential target. And all it takes is the scantest of threat intel - a telephone call from an untraceable phone number. As long as kids get a kick out of pushing adults' buttons, this will remain a (potentially deadly) issue.

Species5618December 14, 2015 6:34 AM

I feel for victims of this type of abuse, modern internet has made it all too easy

I send several "nice" santa claus texts every year !

sadly it is too easy for some people to mis direct a small amount of limited knowledge

while he has not been swatted, (or what every the uk equivalent is)
my son (teenager) has been the subject of mild abuse similar to this

pizza's, phone calls, domain names registered in his name, and an attempted DOS on my wife's business website,

however we were lucky, on each occasion the culprit made silly mistakes, such as bragging about it,
The problem went away after he got a REAL visit from the police !

Brian SDecember 14, 2015 7:15 AM

@Al Dente

That may be a separate issue. But this is still a problem itself.

Think about the headlines if they just said, "hell with it, it's probably just some stupid kid, just send a single unit over there to check".

And then it turned out to be a completely legit incident that they now failed to do anything about.

They have to take every incident as possibly being 100% serious.

These guys are not calling and saying "Oh hey, I think I saw someone outside with a flashlight".
They are describing situations where full SWAT mobilization is required. Things like multiple gunmen holding several people prisoner, shots already fired, etc.

They do this from services that allow them to call from numbers local to the target, using voice masking (if needed), etc.

Al DenteDecember 14, 2015 7:42 AM

@Brian S

Not advocating that the call be ignored or dismissed.
Agree that every incident should be INVESTIGATED as possibly being legitimate. There's a tremendous amount of data gathering that can occur in a very short window to assist in determining the appropriate response. There is process and procedure, and there are Red Flags and wisdom from past lessons learned that should immediately come into play.

We rely on our protectors acting in a calm rational manner in order to keep us safe. If safety officers can turn into killers of innocent citizens based solely on a punk with a keyboard, then the problem is not the child - the problem is the system.

RonDecember 14, 2015 8:01 AM

Unfortunately, there are definitely differences in IQs. Unfortunately again, most people who become police officers are in the lower IQ range. People with average and above IQs don't know, recognize, and admit that this discrepancy is a real problem. Cops usually only have the mental ability to act like brute beast when it comes to dealing with crime. Even most detectives who are wrongfully considered to be more intelligent, mostly use brute force tactics in their attempt to solve crimes. Thus the 8+ hour interrogations of everyone with the remotest connection to a case. They use the Reed interrogation method, banned in England because of its ability to cause the weak to make false confessions, in an attempt to get statements that seem to be incriminating to use to build a false case. This is why it is extremely important for people to always be ready to exercise their right to remain silent and demand a lawyer (beware of the advise of police appointed public defenders) if further detained (4 hours is considered the maximum) or arrested. Lawyers and even retired detectives will warn you to NEVER make any statements to the authorities. As one detective put it, forcing a confession entails the solving of 90% of all cases. Law abiding, innocent citizens need to fully recognize that the authorities, including the FBI and all other police agencies, are your enemies. All cops, prosecutors, and judges have egos, ambitions, job performance requirements, problems in life, etc, that will influence their decisions on a daily basis. Keep in mind that they are not holy and thereby perfectly just.

Al DenteDecember 14, 2015 8:15 AM

@Ron

Great point.
Which means the knee-jerk vulnerabilities are intrinsic to the system.

Sigh

ianfDecember 14, 2015 9:09 AM


the Canadian criminal case decision is here: http://canlii.ca/t/gk3rx. (=404 error)

Except, Mark, it isn't, not with a trailing full stop in your URL. Hence the correct one is http://canlii.ca/t/gk3rx (sentence: 16 months in jail + 8 months supervision for ~50 cases of doxing/ swatting/ blackmail/ extortion against ~25 people… how is that idiot even allowed to crawl the Earth unharmed?)

You need to study "Science has spoken: ending a text with a full stop makes you a monster" http://gu.com/p/4fvte and draw conclusions from it for the future (Wael can assist with moral support, as he's already been there done that—and worse).

hoodathunkitDecember 14, 2015 10:36 AM

@Ron @Al Dente
"Cops usually only have the mental ability to act like brute beast when it comes to dealing with crime.",
and then ". . . the authorities, including the FBI and all other police agencies, are your enemies." Emphasis added.

Good grief! Who's showing a "lower IQ range" here? Probably the same person who can't dial fast enough to get the cops after a hit-n-run, burglary, mugging . . . or neighbor kids cutting across their lawn. [It's the last bit that makes certain types want the brute-force guys] But cops have —on average— the same IQ as the average of the area they work in.

TõnisDecember 14, 2015 12:46 PM

@Al Dente

The problem is not the pimply-faced teenager. The problem is poorly trained law enforcement officers operating within a hair-trigger mentality environment. Think about the mobilization effort required for dozens of military-grade troops to surround a potential target. And all it takes is the scantest of threat intel - a telephone call from an untraceable phone number. As long as kids get a kick out of pushing adults' buttons, this will remain a (potentially deadly) issue.

Think about all the money, the overtime to be made on all these unfunny incidents. Take that obnoxious display in Watertown, MA when it only took 9000 cops 18 hours to find one teenager. Wait, they didn't even find the teenager, some citizen did in his back yard! Still, there was lots of pay, and the gun-toters were able to knock off around six on Friday evening with instructions to the public to the effect of, "You should be relatively safe. Remain vigilant and go about your business as you normally would." (Translation: "Spend as you normally would. We wouldn't want to hurt the economy even more than it already is.") Militarized police is an industry, just like war (in the traditional sense), the "wars" on drugs/terror/etc., and prison.

ianfDecember 14, 2015 1:43 PM


@ Wael “[will provide moral support, as] he's already been there done that—and worse.”

    That was funny. I got a good laugh out of it. I'll remember that, though.

Glad I made you chuckle (no charge). But what's there to (ominously) remember? You happened to finish off my education with a full stop, never mind the reason. Being reminded of it in jokey fashion is now such a source of stress to you?

Maybe we should go the whole hog and
for the sake of our (future?) grandchildren, whom we eventually will bore to death with this, agree on calling it something distinct to distinguish it by. How about Much Ado About a Full Stop? ;-))

Frank WilhoitDecember 14, 2015 1:49 PM

@Ron:

So there are two distinct problems, each of which could be crippling on its own:

1. public-sector hiring practices
2. the structural unaccountability of law enforcement

These two things exacerbate each other, but they are completely separate problems and (in my view) can only be effectively addressed if they are understood as being distinct. Either one might, in principle, be solved independently of the other; but a major practical obstacle comes from the fact that the actors who wish to preserve the status quo use the confusion between the two problems to blow smoke and portray the situation as intractable.

Clive RobinsonDecember 14, 2015 2:50 PM

In the findings/sentancing it was stated that the defendant pled guilty to

    23 counts of criminal misconduct, all but one of which occurred during 2014 when you were a young person within the meaning of the Youth Criminal Justice Act, S.C. 2002 c. 1.

And that there was a total of 46 counts in total. Interestingly many of these were commited whilst he was on bail, under the supervision of his mother, who has her own mental health issues... It also appears his father was a violent criminal and that this had contributed to the defedents change in personality and outlook on life.

Whilst this should not excuse what he did, and I feel for his victims who by the sounds of it are blaimless. I can not help but wonder what would happen to any child in that situation let alone one who might have inherated socialy negative characteristics from both parents.

The simple fact is that the demands on a family life are getting worse year by year due to the behaviour of employers. Thus many children are now being "raised electronicaly" by gadgets and the Internet and social cohesion is rapidly declining. Further that again due to employers and other top 1%ers most peoples societal aspirations have no chance of being reached. You have to ask yourself if cases like these are going to become more frequent and what everybodies social responsibility is to reduce that likelyhood.

Douglas KilpatrickDecember 14, 2015 3:16 PM

From the article, one of the issues getting anyone to care was that the crime was a trivially minor one. Not worth the effort to investigate.

How is that the case? How is this 50x "making a false report" (or whatever the actual charges are: I didn't see anything that actually said) and not 50x "attempted murder/extortion/etc"?

jdgaltDecember 14, 2015 3:27 PM

In my view this story is much too kind to police. "Law enforcement and the public are [NOT!} still grappling with what SWAT teams are for and how they should be used": everybody knows they only have business deploying for hostage situations and similar hazards; and even then they should not be attacking people's homes based on one anonymous phone caller's unverified word.

But cops today are so lazy, paranoid, and cowardly that they'll cheerfully bash your door in at 3 AM to collect an overdue parking ticket, and then have the cheek to tell you that Rule 1 is for the officer to get home alive. Bah!

It's time to add a few things to the Bill of Rights, pronto:
1) Cops must specifically show necessity (and get it written on the warrant) before they can raid anyone at night, or break a door down, or use SWAT teams.
2) Every use of force by a cop requires justification. Use of weapons (including tasers, pepper spray, and billy clubs) can only be justified by an actual threat to life or limb.
3) Police departments, and officers personally, owe restitution to anyone who suffers injury, property damage, or detention by officers and is not convicted afterward of a crime serious enough to warrant any force and intimidation used.
4) Not only cops but also prosecutors and judges are fully, personally liable to each victim for every violation of Constitutional rights. They shall have no immunity of any kind, nor shall the government, and victims have the right to prosecute cases themselves if the state will not.

albertDecember 14, 2015 4:33 PM

Most of you are way off base in this discussion.

Given that:
1. The police HAVE to respond to such calls.
2. Perps are difficult or impossible to trace and arrest.
3. Punishments aren't appropriate to the crime. Habitual offenders need to face felony charges.

More creative solutions exist. Think about what information is _known_ in every case.

. .. . .. _ _ _ ....

tyrDecember 14, 2015 4:39 PM


Beating rgaff to it.

If I recall correctly the SWAT teams were invented
by NSDAP Germany. They were not intended for any
police duties except to react to situations normal
police could not handle.

Suddenly they became a wonderful new tool for those
in law enforcement but by retraining normal police
and splitting their duties. Since there was no budget
for two separate units you got the current mess.
Once a few big cities (LA) did this every small town
force decided they needed a SWAT team and all of the
spiffy guns and armor to make them feel special too.

National Socialism probably had a real justification
for SWAT teams, whether the local doughnut stuffers
do is left as an exercise for the student.

The current state of law enforcement as part of a
self sustaining industrial process designed to leech
off society and increase its footprint at the expense
of the host is a different subject.

PigmeatDecember 14, 2015 5:23 PM

Lookie here, the pigs have their own cyber-personas now, just like the feds! Here comes hoodathunkit to blurt some cop-level word salad about how cops ain't dumb. Poor dope don't even know they can keep smart people out.

www.aele.org/apa/jordan-newlondon.html

104 IQ max, sucka! Don't worry, you'll make the cut with flying colors.

Everybody knows pigs are dumb and socialized to be animals so they can do the dirty work for CIA, kill whoever Langley's scared of. Like smart people. Pigs is just power-trippin pawns. RIF em all and replace em with unarmed social workers, world'll be a better place.

Dirk PraetDecember 14, 2015 6:58 PM

The real story here is that Canada seems to have little to no appropriate statutory or case law for most of the offenses this guy was convicted of, neither for juveniles or for adults.

Even when diagnosed with a narcissistic personality disorder, over here chances are that accused would have been tried as an adult for most, if not all offenses charged with and would have gone to prison for at least five years. Not to mention punitive damages for the victims and the full invoice for all LE interventions. Calling in a false bomb alert alone earns you two years per piece, so this here idiot can thank $DEITY that he didn't did caught where I live.

ianfDecember 14, 2015 7:56 PM


Sez @ Clive Robinson […] “Whilst this should not excuse what [the "swatter"/ extortionist] did, and I feel for his victims who by the sounds of it are blameless. I can not help but wonder what would happen to any child in that situation let alone one who might have inherited socially negative characteristics from both parents.

A society, any society that absolves parents from bearing responsibility for the conduct of their offspring deserves what it gets. But do victims of these offspring elected to be collateral damage of their doings? In this particular case we seem to be dealing with repeated criminal pathology by a juvenile outside parental control which the society proved unable to detect, control and/or rectify. Now the big $CAN 64,000 question: has anyone learned anything from it, has anything been done to prevent such from reoccurring? [we both know the answer to that.]

Just recently I heard of a 24yo pædophile "Internet-stalker" who, via social media and using threats of doxing and worse, has managed to talk children between 5 and 14yo to disrobe, undress, and perform sexual acts on themselves in front of web cameras. The radio host was full of indignation over it, but, when I phoned in to the station and stated my question to the vetting producer, I wasn't allowed on air: “where were those 5-, 6-, and 7-year olds' parents or caretakers?


The simple fact is that the demands on a family life are getting worse year by year due to the behaviour of employers.

Right, employers are to blame, always someone else but the immediate guardians or family. Because working conditions were so much better before Ned Ludd decided to act in defense of child labour.


@ Douglas Kilpatrick […] How is this 50x "making a false report" and not 50x "attempted murder/ extortion/ etc"?

That's what I'm asking myself, too… with the only LOGIC explanation that I can see being the society's need for future social-handholding and incarceration fodder (=lucrative occupations both/ "jobs for the boys").

BillDecember 15, 2015 2:24 PM

They should used the same tactics they use on East European criminals... Lure him to someplace they CAN arrest him.

65535December 15, 2015 9:30 PM

Since I am late to this discussion all just make some observations.

“The problem is poorly trained law enforcement officers operating within a hair-trigger mentality environment. Think about the mobilization effort required for dozens of military-grade troops to surround a potential target.” -Al Dente

I agree. That is a fair point. It’s obvious that “Swatter’s” use the Swat team’s own mentality to their advantage. Police call centers must be more alert to these types of confidence games.

Further, the huge investment in military weapons by the civilian police are rarely used or justified. This investment 5.6+ billion USD in, grenade launchers, Bearcats, auto rifles and high-power ammunition only encourages the police to use said military equipment at the drop of a feather.

Considerably more police training in deescalation and re-thinking of ‘respond high’ attitudes needs to be done. Any officer behind a shield with an auto rifle and bullet proof vest should be mindful of the danger he is putting citizens in. “Respond high” should be rarely used.

“Neither of the caller-¬ID numbers attached to the two hoax calls belonged to an individual. They had to be traced through a laby¬rinth of companies that buy blocks of numbers and resell them to voice-¬over-¬IP providers…” -NYT

Relying on the notoriously unreliable “Caller-ID” for potentially lethal encounters is a gross error on the part of police. It is clear that Swatters know about this loop hole and exploit it. Police should be trained on the Caller-ID scam used by Swatters.

“…Finley obviously couldn’t just fly to another country and put a juvenile in handcuffs. But he kept pulling threads. Finley called the police in Coquitlam, and while they wouldn’t give him the swatter’s name, they confirmed that they knew all about him. He had been arrested earlier that year, in fact, and released on bail on the condition that he not access the Internet or use a computer without supervision. The authorities would arrest him again in the fall — only to release him on bail yet again.” –NYT

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/11/29/magazine/the-serial-swatter.html?_r=0

I am sure there are a number of federal and local laws that could be invoked in Swatting cases. I understand making any type of false police report is a serious crime in most areas. Swatting is even a more serious crime. It’s looking like the police don’t want to stop the Swatting of innocent civilians because they are the main tool enable the crime [or lethal encounter].

This aspect must be studied more. It reminds me of the odd fact that authorities fail to tally police killings – which is done by private citizens. This whole militarization of civilian police must be re-examined.


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