The effort to fight swatting has now gone to the national level. Rep. Ron Estes from Wichita introduced the bill known as the Andrew T. Finch Memorial Act to address the issue.
It comes after the fatal officer-involved shooting that left Andrew Finch dead. Officials arrested Tyler Barriss, and he’s been charged with involuntary manslaughter, interfering with police and making a false alarm.
“The swatting incident here in Wichita and others across the country highlight the need for a federal law that addresses these crimes,” said Rep. Estes. “That’s why I’m introducing legislation to increase the severity of punishment for these criminals and deter others from participating in this dangerous activity.”
If passed the bill would impose strict penalties for swatting, including up to 20 years in prison if someone is seriously hurt because of a swatting attack.
• “Swatting” is a call to a police department with a false story of a crime in progress in an attempt to draw a large number of police officers to a particular address.
• The false reports often involve very dangerous scenarios for a community and police officers such as hostages have been taken or an active shooter is in progress.
• Typically, swatting calls originate from online gaming disagreements.
• Swatting presents jurisdictional problems. If a call or email is placed from one state but the victim lives in another, it may not be clear who should investigate or prosecute the case. If the swatter lives outside the United States, the case becomes even more complicated.
• Often the phone numbers from swatting calls are spoofed, making them very difficult to trace and hard to prosecute the individuals.
• The FBI estimated there were 400 swatting attacks in 2013.
• FBI reports the average cost is $10,000-$25,000 per emergency response.
• In 2013, one individual, Mir Islam was found guilty of false report swatting calls for more than 50 public figures. He was sentenced to only two years in prison.