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SWATing is a deadly, dangerous prank. Michael Adams, shown here, is charged with reckless endangerment and several other crimes for allegedly SWATing his neighbor in September. The indictment charges that Adams called 911 anonymously on September 16th, 2013 to report a hostage situation at his neighbor’s home. Adams described a man with IED’s strapped to his chest and pointing an AR-15 at him. He was arrested and charged after detectives traced the calls back to him. He’s since been released on $50,000 bail . . .

Upon receiving the call, the police predictably showed up en masse at the unlucky neighbor’s house and cleared it. The neighbor turned out to be lucky after all, because the house was empty at the time. He was on vacation so no one was shot by the SWAT team.

Detectives traced the call to Adams, who claimed that he was the victim of phone hacking. He gave them permission to examine his computer and PS3 game console and they used the evidence obtained to get a search warrant for everything else.

It’s nice to see a SWAT’er arrested and charged, but (alleged) punks like Adams are only half of the SWATing problem. The rest, which I consider an even more serious risk to public safety, is the predictable and overly-aggressive response by heavily militarized police agencies. Not every panicked 911 call should lead to a SWAT team with flashbang grenades and MP-5Ks.

Mall-ninja police and no-knock raids were unfortunate police responses to the crime wave of the late 1980s to mid-1990s. Our society is vastly less dangerous now, but our police are vastly more so.

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  1. I don’t understand. Why’d he SWAT an empty house? Did he get off on seeing the cops do their thing?

  2. Thag. That name popped to mind as soon as I saw the picture. Hope he and bubba get along in the graybar hotel.

  3. SWATing would be a thing of the past of cops actually did some police work before descending on someone’s home like Taras Bulba laying siege to Dubno Castle.

    SWATing exploits the cops’ willingness to be a half-assed assault force. If cops were cops, SWATing would be relegated to bad science fiction novels.

    • Agree wholeheartedly. I’m glad to say that the SWAT teams in my area don’t get called out for anything this picayune, but that’s not true for nearby cities.

      There’s a scene in the series Justified where a local SWAT team is called in to deal with a hostage situation in the US Marshals office. The portrayal was uncannily realistic, in that their attitude was that once they arrived, they were in charge and it was guns-and-flashbangs time as soon as they were stacked up.

    • SWATers don’t call and say Mr. and Mrs Smith are have a argument. They tell the police that Mr. Smith has gone crazy and is shooting his family and threatening the neighbors wiht his evil black rifle. SWATing is a calculated effort to get a heavily armed police attack on someone that the SWATer doesn’t like. They tell the 911 operator that an event that realy requires a SWAT team for response is happening. The don’t want a couple of uniforms showing up to investigate. They ultimately want the police to kill someone. I think SWATers should be charged with attempted murder.

    • The rule now is any slight provocation and 100% military force is instantly deployed. If a mistake was made well too bad for the dog and front door. But the rest of the town sees the operation and a deterrent is made.

  4. These times will be looked back upon as a transition period when private citizens could control the actions of a Police State,,,sorta

  5. Wow. Had no idea “SWATing” was a thing. There are enough mistakes made by the goons themselves.

    It neglected to say if they went into the back yard and and shot his dog or lit up a basket of kittens in the living room.

    • There’s some evidence that it’s being used by particularly nasty people to punish their political opponents. A quick Google search for “Patrick Frey SWATTed” should send you down some interesting & frightening paths.

  6. I’m sure that if somebody had a heart attack upon no knock entry or some kid died from a flash bang to the temple that it wouldn’t have been the responding agency’s fault.

    • Don’t even need that, one swat raid shot a little girl. There was a trial, he claimed the grandmother tried to grab the gun from him. I don’t remember what he got. Probably paid vacation.

  7. Anyone with a modicum of intelligence who would consider actually SWATing someone would make sure that their call was untraceable, IMO.

  8. There is occasionally a time for SWAT. No knock raids on neighborhood poker games are NOT it. Hostage situations, however are. The local PD should just keep in mind that it might be a prank.

    The prankster on the other hand could use about 5-10 years in the state pen to think about his ingenious idea.

    • Shouldn’t a normal officer go out to verify that there is a hostage situation and a swat team is, in fact, called for?

      • “Shouldn’t a normal officer go out to verify that there is a hostage situation and a swat team is, in fact, called for?”

        What? And spoil all the fun of jumping into an MRAP with M-4s (safety off, natch) and all that shiny gear, and flashbangs that could go off inside?

      • The idea behind SWAT is for the police to replicate every aspect of a military assault except for reconnaissance.

      • If you were being held at gunpoint by a deranged gunman would you want to wait an extra 15 minutes for the SWAT to get there? Or for that matter would you want to be the lone LEO that goes up and knocks on the door?

    • How about a report that a man is evicting his ex girlfriend’s possessions from his home, is that a Fairfax County SWAT callout if the ex says he owns a gun?

  9. Swatting is really just murder for cowards who can’t do it themselves. Hopefully they charge him with attempted murder, and put him away for a long time.

  10. I wonder what the outcry would be if a single police officer was dispatched and, upon announcing his presence, a real hostage oped fire. The officer retreats, being entirely outgunned. Hostage taker kills the victim.

  11. The irony is so sweet! Calling the police on someone is considered by the police themselves as “reckless endangerment”. Yes, the police are VERY dangerous.

  12. Were he to have seen what he claimed, a SWAT team (hostages, IED’s, etc) would have been appropriate.

    I believe transferred intent should apply here. If I swat my neighbor and he is killed, then I get charged with first degree murder and sent to death row. End of story. After all if I rob a liquor store and the owner, defending himself, shoots at me and hit an innocent, who dies, I will be charged with 1st degree (or aggravated or felony or whatever your state calls it) murder (his intent was legitimate, self-defense, and is transferred to its effects, notwithstanding negligence. Mine was criminal and likewise).

    I am reminded of one of the more curious death penalty statutes in the country, namely the death penalty for capital perjury. The law states that you may be sentence to death if through perjury you advance the conviction and capital sentence of some innocent. I don’t see this as much different.

    ETA: Some states have also passed laws making the perps financially liable for the cost spent by the government, as well as liable for damages.

  13. Nevermind that the use of SWAT teams dramatically REDUCES the likelihood of casualties (“good guy”, “bad guy” and innocent bystanders alike) – despite a few very RARE though highly publicized instances to the contrary.

    Quit bad-mouthing and alienating the few public employees who might still be on our side in the great gun debate.

      • Peh, pronounced “Pe-h”, is a village in Ukhrul District, Manipur, India.
        If this was not the meaning you attribute to “Peh”, please explain this bit of “Orwellian Newspeak.”

    • Hey, Ludachris, if you think that SWAT teams are on any side but their own, you haven’t been paying attention. To anything.

    • A instructor I took a couple classes from has a saying: “cops are like a box of chocolates – you never know what you’re going to get.”

      He himself is a cop, and in fact a member of King County’s version of SWAT. If badness were going down and he showed up, I’d be glad, but that’s because I know him and I know what he can do.

      Cops and SWAT, generally? You never know. There are those who are 100% on the side of the Constitution and there those who would sell us out in a heartbeat.

    • So making dynamic entry from multiple entrances when serving a search warrant for marijuana is safer for the occupants than two guys in suits? I’m going to need a citation for that one.

    • Chris can you please change your handle to Chris_the_idiot so I can save time in the future and just skip over.

  14. How did they “clear” a house in which nobody was at home? Maybe that should have been “cleared”, in quotes. I’m sorta surprised they didn’t burn it down when nobody answered their megaphoned calls to “come out with your hands up, especially the dogs.”

  15. How would you have the police respond to a report of a suspect with an AR and an IED who has taken hostages? What if the first officer arriving parked up the street and took his time getting there? Cough SHES cough

  16. WTF? I seriously had never even heard of SWATing until I read this and started googling. Just odd.

  17. I for one feel like a SWAT team showing up for a hostage situation is a pretty good use of a SWAT team.

    • This would true IF (BIG if) they were not responding to a single anonymous call and absolutely no other information, not even the name and call-back number of the person making the report.

      It would only seem logical to assume that the burden of “Probable Cause” for entry into a person’s residence has not been met, per the 4th Amendment, based on a single unsubstantiated and anonymous tip. Under those ROEs the police could enter anywhere and any time without bothering to get a warrant. THAT is why SWATting is serious problem.

      • Also, if it’s a real hostage situation, shouldn’t there be a negotiator there first to attempt as peaceful resolution who would authorize swat when it became clear that negotiations weren’t working?

        • “Also, if it’s a real hostage situation, shouldn’t there be a negotiator there first to attempt as peaceful resolution”

          That’s IT; but you’ll never make the SWAT team with an attitude like that! The guns, the grenades, the ammo – they GO STALE if you don’t use them regularly….

  18. “It’s nice to see a SWAT’er arrested and charged, but (alleged) punks like Adams are only half of the SWATing problem. The rest, which I consider an even more serious risk to public safety, is the predictable and overly-aggressive response by heavily militarized police agencies. Not every panicked 911 call should lead to a SWAT team with flashbang grenades and MP-5Ks.”

    And it cannot be over-emphasized that such raids can be a serious risk to police officers’ lives, as well:

  19. SWATTING isn’t new. Some weirdos do the same thing with fire departments calling in fires and crashes that aren’t there because they get their rocks off seeing the fire trucks with the flash lights and sirens going by.

    How the police respond to an in progress hostage call is similar to how the FD house fire call. The FD doesn’t send 1 fireman in a grass truck and wait and see if it’s real, they roll out all the toys and mutual aid until they know it’s a bogus call.

    • Firefighters don’t rush in with guns, ready to kill someone. There is no reason not to attempt to verify that such a response is need before raiding a house. I’m not saying leave leave the swat team behind for that, but make sure before breaking down a door.

      Much like the firefighters don’t kick in the door and start spraying water without verifying there is a fire.

      • Mutual aid in the fire service is when you call in equipment and firefighters from surrounding areas. A lot of smaller departments can’t staff enough personnel to run a pumper and a ladder truck at the same time so they’ll rely on another town to give them the extra help when there’s a fire.

        • AH! Got it, thanks for the clarification. I suppose I should have known; I lived about 200 yards from the BLM office in Taos, home of the Kit Carson National Forest Whatever They Called Themselves. They fought forest fires all over the west.

  20. Has there been a recorded swating death yet of a officer or a swatee? I know it’s easy to be a keyboard warrior or telephone toughguy but if I saw a swat team ready to enter my home I would not be putting my hands up, I would be firing my DE .50s with custom armor piercing rounds and go out guns blazing.
    But this should never be.
    Under no circumstance should a swat team legally be able to raid a home because of a single 911 call. So this is a case of bad policy as usual. A swat team should only legally access a home with a warrant from a judge or if there is a visible threat in that home like a guy at the upstairs bedroom window holding a ak47 out, or someone they are chasing enter a home. Since when were police able to go into a home for no reason other than word from a third party, something that isn’t even allowed in a court of law? I think this bad policy all started with 911 itself, they started allowing police to enter homes any 911 call came from under the assumption someone was in distress there. But an anonymous phone call? Come on there cannot be a law that justifies this.

    • Lars, really. “DE .50s with custom armor piercing rounds and go out guns blazing”?? Do you even own those weapons or that ammunition? Somebody’s been playing too many video games and watching too much telly.

      I think it would be more like you would put your face to the floor with your hands on your head and your legs crossed. Especially if you have children that live in the same house with you. Oh you would be such a hero if you initiated a gunfight and got your family killed.

      If you would not comply then you are seriously an idiot. I think you’re just shooting off at the mouth. I think you’re a lot of smoke and not much else, tough guy.

      The police are not to be trifled with, they are to be avoided at all costs.

  21. A friend of mine living in Jacksonville, Florida, had a long standing feud with her neighbors living directly behind her. She wound up having to call police a few times for late night parties and loud music. Apparently, they tried to “Get Even” by calling the police on her multiple times and reported that she was a drug dealer, which she definitely was NOT! The SWAT team showed up in full battle gear, rammed the door off its hinges, and stormed her bedroom. She was fast asleep until all the commotion of her door exploding occurred. Before she could put her glasses on (she was all but blind without them on) they stormed her bedroom, and subsequently she was shot multiple times and died.

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