What is ‘Swatting’ + Why It Can Get You Into Big Trouble Under Colorado Law
Swatting is the action or practice of making a prank call to emergency services in an attempt to bring about the dispatch of a large number of armed police officers to a particular address.
In Colorado, swatting could get you into some serious trouble.
Swatting Instances In Colorado
Earlier this week (Sept. 19), multiple Colorado schools fell victim to swatting calls, consisting of threats and phony phone calls that were all sent out Monday afternoon.
On Monday, Sept. 19, calls were made to the following Colorado schools:
- Denver East High School - threat reported just before 2 p.m. Monday. The school was put on lockdown and students were evacuated as police cleared the school. Police cleared the building and students were released around 3:30 p.m that day.
- Alamosa High School - police responded to the southern Colorado school based on an "unfounded threat felt to be a prank call," according to the city of Alamosa.
- Montrose High School - school put on lockdown after another instance of "unfounded threat felt to be a prank call," the school said on its website.
Both Delta and Cedaredge High School in Delta County, CO also received similar calls around the same time Monday afternoon, 9News said.
Thankfully, these threats were not carried out and nobody was reported injured in any instance. However, different branches of law enforcement are working together to further look into these swatting instances, and figure out if any of the calls had any kind of relation to one another.
The FBI Denver Field Office is reportedly working with local law enforcement to investigate the recent swatting incidents.
Thinking About Making A Swatting Call? Be Prepared To Pay The Price
Not that the thought should ever cross your mind, but if you've ever thought about making a swatting call of any kind, think again.
“If you make a swatting call, the penalties are similar to third-degree assault,” State Senator Jeff Bridges said in a statement.
“And the thing is if someone is hurt in the process, that increases to a [class 4] felony. If someone is killed, It increases to a felony in the third degree."
State lawmakers, like Bridges, said the potential dangers that could come from swatting calls are why they passed a law to address swatting back in 2018.
Swatting Consequences In Colorado - Are they strong enough?
While there are laws in place to punish those who commit swatting-related offenses, some believe that, with the rise of these kinda offenses occurring in schools, the consequences for juvenile offenders in these instances aren't strong enough.
“This is not the kind of charge that you can try someone as an adult for", former district attorney George Brauchler told FOX31.
"Those are reserved for things like murder, robbery, rape, not for crimes like this. The juvenile justice system over the past decade has been so watered down, even if a juvenile were apprehended and charged with this crime, the ramifications for them are pretty mitigated in terms of what would happen to them through the juvenile justice system, and that’s because we have a justice system that has a primary goal of rehabilitation, not punishment, and in this particular case, I think it’s got to be both."
On the other hand, Senator Bridges said he thinks swatting penalties in Colorado do go far enough; however, he wants people to know the law exists so more people will think twice before they ultimately decide to commit the crime.