Carb-challenged SWAT team responds to "prank" call at NJ Assemlyman Moriarty's house (courtesy nj.com)

“Swatting” means calling in to 911 to report a dangerous situation that requires a SWAT team to deal with it. A situation that doesn’t exist. (That probably doesn’t require a SWAT team but that’s another story.) In October, after a video game store was swatted, New Jersey assemblyman Paul Moriarty sponsored a bill with penalties for people who practice the “sick and disturbing” act of “swatting.” Specifically, jail time and a fine of up to $150k. On Saturday, the day after the legislator renewed his call for action, Mr. Moriarty was himself swatted. nj.com tells the tale . . .

State Assemblyman Paul Moriarty (D-Gloucester) said he was watching the Masters golf tournament and doing his taxes at home on Saturday afternoon in Washington Township when he got a call from the police.

“The person on the phone says they were calling from police dispatch and wanted to know if everything is OK at my house,” Moriarty said. “I said ‘Yeah, why? They said ‘we have a report of a shooting at your home.'”

The dispatcher then asked Moriarty to describe what he was wearing and step outside.

“I look out my front door. There’s six cop cars. They have the street closed off. They have helmets, flak jackets and rifles,” Moriarty said. “I walk out and walk towards them. They motion me to keep walking towards them. The minute I walked out the door, I was still on the phone with the dispatch person, I said ‘I think I’ve just been swatted.’ It just then occurred to me what happened.” . . .

“I’m thinking someone read about the bill and some sick, evil person thought it would be funny to send the police to my house on one of these false reports,” Moriarty said.

Will this incident put Moriarty’s bill on the front burner? Remember, we’re talking New Jersey here. [h/t Pascal]

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58 Responses to Anti-SWATting NJ Legislator SWATted

  1. I’m going on record and say if you need six patrol cars to respond to a prank call, your police force has too many officers and time on their hands. Then being directed by someone on a phone to do and act a certain way until the police are satisfied is disturbing.

    • Maybe the prank caller forgot to press 1# at the prompt when he dialed 911 to indicate that it was a prank call.

    • That is true for many towns here in NJ. Aside from a handful of large cities, there isn’t much crime. Each small town has plenty of cops either doing absolutely nothing or harassing the tax payers. Ironically, cities like Newark, Paterson, Camden or Jersey City do not have nearly enough cops and crime is rampant.

  2. If the legislators do not push for movement on this bill Swatters may be emboldened if they think they can get away with swatting government officials.

  3. Sorry, but the NJ has taken away citizens right to bear arms for self defense, and leads the nation in police non-accountability. My empathy is extremely limited. What goes around comes around. Regular peons won’t get the “is everything ok” call.

  4. I wonder if there are existing crimes that fit the framework of SWATting that people could be charged with now, e.g. “depraved indifference” or “criminal solicitation” or manslaughter (if a death results).

    • Or MDA encouraging their members to call 911 to report every person they see with a gun in public anywhere. The 1st may protect their website’s right to suggest people do it but after a few of their members end up with jail time I’d like to think that their credibility would come under file. Oh the sweet sweet irony. They push for laws that make the most upstanding citizens and law abiding gun owners overnight felons for possessing scary black guns. Now they are at risk of making themselves overnight felons for intentionally endangering us!

    • I can’t agree with that. Responders should respond, not question the direction. It is those who SEND them who should be held responsible for swatting. This also should not require a law, a police procedure should be adequate. Like, you get a call that someone with a gun is at such and such a place, dispatcher asks name and location, we’re sending an officer *to you* so you can describe your problem. Shazam, our connection failed somehow. If you cannot identify and confront (arrest) the caller, the call did not happen.

      • The problem with that is that literally any phone can be “spoofed”, and make it sound like you’re calling from your victim’s own phone. Whether it’s a land line or a cell phone is irrelevant.

        So, no, a simple “police procedure” — which are already quite clearly dubious if not down-right insidious enough as they are thank-you-very-much — won’t cut it. There needs to be a very real punishment for this kind of bullshit, because it does actually get citizens and police officers alike killed.

        • This is a kind-of off-the-cuff idea; however, it might work. The 911 dispatcher can ask the caller for his Social Security Number. If the caller has an American-sounding accent then he probably is NOT a foreign tourist who has observed an emergency situation.
          Now, the Social Security Administration has a computer service (for banks, etc.) that allows a subscriber to enter a SS# and a name and it returns a Match/No-Match result. (This service enables banks to check for accurate SS#s on their customer accounts).
          If the 911 dispatcher doesn’t get a SS# from the caller, then that’s a red flag. If he gets a SS# and it doesn’t match with the Social Security Administration’s service then that’s a red flag. What the 911 dispatcher and LEO-in-charge of the response want to do about the red flags is their call.
          An anti-SWATing scheme wouldn’t have to work perfectly; it only has to work well enough to discourage crackpots from abusing the 911 service.

        • @Mark in PA

          From what I’ve read, if they can spoof numbers and SWAT you, they can get your name, SS#, bank account and credit card info even easier. That personal info or “dox” as they refer to it as is like primary school level for troll skills (lets face it, that’s who is doing it).

          It is disgusting how easy it is for them to dox you, from legit companies selling your phone number, address etc for a few dollars on websites to advanced social engineering, hacking/skiddying and even dark web hackers for hire if they personally lack the ability. Even if you are barely on line, a determined troll CAN find you. Too much info is online from the phone companys, banks, .gov; without your consent or knowledge.

          All it takes is your first and last name for them to get started. If they know your city/town, its pretty much game over. Unless they are not competent/unable to afford dox.

          Information security is a big deal. If people knew how truly easy it is for identity theft to happen…. well it scares the crap out of me.

  5. Just another example of the disturbing trend in “law enforcement” toward militarization and over-response without benefit of reasoned restraint through the act of a little reconnoitering first. Trust states like New Jersey to lead the way. We’ve seen this change reflected in our entertainment industry over the last half century. Likeable, reasoned, professional peace officers like Sheriff Andy Taylor, Detective Joe Friday, and Officer Pete Malloy were long ago replaced by Dirty Harry Callaghan, Hill Street Blues, and their many successors. Regrettably, the ‘us against them’ mentality of the modern police state continues to evolve, replacing the notion of ‘keeping the peace’, with one of enforcing hundreds of thousands of laws imposed on the citizenry. Now I cringe each time I hear a cop talk about “civilians”, as though he were a member of a different societal caste. It only serves to reinforce this attitude that we are all guilty of something. What a sad state of affairs it has become.

    • Bill, Bill, Bill . . . They’re just trying to make sure they can go home at night. There’s really nothing going on to be of any concern to you or me, so please just move along.

      • It’s what they get paid for! “Going home at night” is the entire job anymore, other than taxation functions with a radar or red light camera.

  6. I call BS on this story! Every one knows that if 3 or more law enforcement officers gather in one place then a BATF tactical team has to be invited to the party too. I count 3 sheriffs but zero ATF, thus this must be a hoax.

  7. A harsh penalty is fine but even this politician admits the problem is that only the very few careless are going to be affected. You will not find any mention of leads in the article and likely never will. He just hopes someone will turn someone in.

    The focus should be on creating reasonable protocols for when SWAT may be used and making additional efforts to determine if a call is real before unnecessarily putting people and dogs in harms way. I care far more about how I am treated in a false call than penalties that my offender is extremely unlikely to have to worry about.

    • This. We don’t need thugs shouting obscenities at, pointing machine guns at, tackling, zip-tying, or cuffing innocent citizens.

      Unfortunately, we need anti-thug bills more than we need anti-phone prank bills.

  8. “Hey, we had to toss the flash-bang into the baby’s crib. The kid might have had a hide-out gun! Sure, it damn near burned the kid to death, but we do it for the children!”

    Next time, they can just drive the MRAP through the side of the house.

  9. Need to have a physical fitness test in a addition to range qualification for police officers annually. Could it be that police shoot first because they know they are not fit enough to chase down a suspect, have to have a swarm of fellow officers because so many are out
    of shape, overweight? Tubby’s only job should be to sit on a perp until can be handcuffed.

  10. Ordinary people get their doors kicked in, dog shot, and family tied up on the floor while they ransack the house.

  11. Just like calling in a fake Coast Guard distress signal their should be penalties for fake police reports.

    Anyone captured for doing this should get lets say 10 years in jail and have to pay for the police departments costs.

    • Yep but a little technological know-how can make it very difficult to find them. Big alphabet agencies can do it, sure, but your local sheriff’s office? Nope.

  12. Seriously? His name is actually Paul Moriarty? I think if I had a last name like that, I’d change it before going into politics…

  13. Stop with the idea of new laws. Just disband SWAT teams, take away their fully automatic “military-style” toys and armored cars, helmets, jack boots, tacticool gear, and dangerous hand grenades. This isn’t the Russian front 1941. Bring back mandatory physical fitness tests, psychological exams, Ford Crown Vics, and 6-shot .38 special, S&W pistols as Mr. Gunsmith suggested in a recent blog. BTW: that fat cop in the photo looks like “Bob” in the show “Justified.” I bet to make sergeant he had to gain weight.

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