The Oneida County Sheriff's Office announced a heavy police presence Tuesday night in the Town of Kirkland as a result of a disturbing 911 call. It appears at this time it is another example of the terrible practice of SWATting.

Oneida County Sheriff Rob Maciol says the initial 911 call came in as a 'shots fired' incident at a residence on Furnace Street at around 3:50 p.m. Due to the nature of the call, several law enforcement agencies responded to the scene. Maciol determined as of 5:30 p.m. the 911 call was likely a SWATting incident, a terrible prank that could lead to a devastating result.

This phenomenon was first recognized and addressed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation way back in 2008. According to the FBI, SWATting "involves calling 9-1-1 and faking an emergency that draws a response from law enforcement—usually a SWAT team." In most cases the fake 911 call indicates that there has been a shooting, the threat of a shooting or the the threat there is an armed individual. In some cases there is also the report of a hostage situation.

These scenarios lead to a level of high stress and tension between SWAT members and whatever individual is victim of the SWATting prank. If the individual living at the subject property is unaware that a 911 call has been made directing law enforcement to their home. If they believe their home is being invaded, they may pull out their own weapon for self-defense. That could lead to a deadly result.

Oneida County Sheriff Maciol says,

Swatting is not only illegal, but it also puts responding law-enforcement members at risk of harm along with tying up critical, life-saving resources at a fake call when they could be needed at a real incident somewhere else at the same time. Many lives are risked each and every time one of these swatting calls occurs and that is why they cannot be tolerated.

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Violators of this law should be prosecuted harshly. An incident like this is in no way different than an individual who calls in a threat of a bomb or shooter at a school or other public space. You may remember the incident years ago where someone called in an active shooter threat at Utica College. Ultimately, the individual who called in that threat was sentenced to 12 years in prison. Similar punishments should be levied against SWATTERS!

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