2017 Call of Duty swatting murder prompts swatting target registration program

    
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The aftermath of a “swatting” incident that saw 28-year-old Andrew Finch of Wichita, Kansas, fatally shot by police has resulted in a new program to hopefully prevent a similar tragedy from happening in the area. Wichita police have now opened up a voluntary program that will allow residents to register their address as a possible swatting target.

The program will place an alert on a registered house that will be visible to first responders and officers responding to an emergency call. This alert will not slow response time for emergencies according to a statement from Wichita police officer Paul Cruz, but it will “create awareness for officers responding to potential swatting incidents.”

The registration program is similar to one started by Seattle police last year, which incidentally was created in response to the Wichita tragedy. The registry has reportedly saved lives according to Seattle’s 911 Operations Manager Russel St. Myers.

Readers will recall that Finch’s murder was perpetrated by Tyler Barriss of California, who called in a fake threat using the address of someone he believed to be a Call of Duty player. Barriss was charged with involuntary manslaughter along with 46 additional criminal charges, all of which saw him receive a 20 year prison sentence. Another two teens who were involved with the incident — Casey Viner, who asked Barriss to make the swatting call, and Shane Gaskill, the intended target who provided Finch’s address — have thus far plead not guilty, though Viner may change that plea and Gaskill’s trial was delayed due to plea talks with federal authorities. The SWAT officer who fired the killing shot was not charged, though Finch’s family is still pursuing a civil claim against the city.

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Kurt Shadle

On one hand, they’re at least trying to do something. On the other hand, this idea seems to have been given less thought than ordering at a drive through.

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Robert Mann

So… the fix to somebody who had no reason to expect they were being swatted is to add a self-processed registry? This isn’t an improvement, it’s trying to pass responsibility away. This should outrage the people of Wichita, and they should demand the resignation of their elected officials in charge of this. Unacceptable.

The correct response would be to hold the officer accountable for something that was not a shooting situation, to take due diligence when doing the job, to ensure that every swatting attempt is treated as attempted murder, and to work on improving public interaction in other areas. There was zero excuse for what happened, and this registry won’t stop it… it will only potentially help those who already know they are a target, which is not all that common with swatting.

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EmberStar

I agree. My understanding is that people doing streaming are often targets (because of the immediate feedback and “for the lulz” moment of watching the cops potentially storm the room and maybe even arrest them on camera.) But they aren’t the only ones targeted. In some cases people have used swatting attempts as retaliation for “getting a better score,” or simply because the other person annoyed them over voice chat.

If I was going to start streaming, I would probably put something on file at my local police station that this is a thing that might happen. That doesn’t mean that someone with ‘l33t skillz’ can’t decide they don’t like my name in a public mission in Warframe tonight, track down my IP address and swat me though. It’s just a lot less likely, because I’m not as public of a target.

Sort of like the urban legend about how Apple products “don’t get viruses.” It was never true, it’s just that for a long time they were such a small part of the computing public that it wasn’t worth the effort to attack them. Why write a virus that will cause havoc for fifteen hundred people when you can write one that will ruin the day for fifteen million? More bang for the buck, baby!

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3dom

How about adding the whole city to the “potentially wrong SWATting target” list and be done with it in 5 minutes?

Some 200IQ people are behind the idea of the special list when actually every address is a real target for swatting.

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zoward

While I love what Wichita is doing, it would be great to see a registry formed at the national level. What are chances the next high-profile swatter is going to be phoning the Wichita police?

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Nathan Aldana

and of course, nothing will be done about the police tendency for SWAT to come in guns blazing/

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NeoWolf

You do get how SWATting works right? Someone phones the police and tells them someone is ARMED and DANGEROUS at the address.. Armed Police turn up expecting an armed confrontation not tea and biscuits.. and you think the issue is with the Police??? Yikes.. my friend your moral compass is so far off north its frightening.

Its kind of simple if you don’t want the possibility of mistakes to happen do not create stupid and dangerous situations that allow the possibility of them. SWATTERS are the issue here, not the SWAT police who do a crazy dangerous job and put their lives on the line EVERY day so YOU and I don’t have to.

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EmberStar

Do you know how Swatting works? Because my understanding is that it happens when some jerk sends ARMED and DANGEROUS people with near-military grade weapons to the house of an unarmed civilian with no warning and no expectation that they’re coming. The death in the Finch case happened partly because, as a mere civilian, he wasn’t trained in how to respond when an aggressive, masked man shoved a gun IN HIS FACE. In his confusion, he did something unexpected and the officer turrned a large portion of anatomy into a cloud of red mist. This is NOT the fault of the man who got shot.

With great power comes great responsibility. And when officers have the capability to respond to *any* provocation with the instant application of lethal force, they absolutely have the responsibility to make sure that doing so is absolutely the LAST resort. Even if that means potentially increased risk to their own safety.

If you are responding to a potential hostage crisis, and someone answers the door who is NOT clearly carrying a weapon, shooting them shouldn’t even be an option. What if it had been an actual report, and the person answering the door had been one of the *victims,* ordered by the actual criminal to get rid of whoever is at the door “OR ELSE!” Would that make it more, or less reasonable that the officer killed him without a clear idea of what was actually going on inside?

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NeoWolf

Your understanding is apparently somewhat ill informed.. so allow me to clarify

Firstly the SWAT ONLY deal with dangerous situations considered beyond reasonable risk for normal Police Enforcement or the public.

Hostage situations
Counterterrorism operations
Apprehension of armed and barricaded suspects
Suicide intervention
Warrant service under fire

Protection of visiting dignitaries
High-risk search and seizure
Covert and undercover operations
Crowd and riot control
Fugitive tracking in rural environments

So when they are called in it is because they expect it to be a potentially life and death situation and recieve much the same paramilitary training as is part of the Special Forces (albeit not quite as extensive) in those situation they are trained as best able to make life and death decisions in a matter of a few seconds when you are in life and death situations you don’t have the luxury of time to consider everything you have to make quick decisive decisions or people die. And the teaching does not tell you to hesitate it teaches you to make as informed a decision as you can but where necessary or if in doubt pull the trigger. When lives are on the line including your own you do not have the liberty of second guessing, hesitations cost lives.

They are not ORDINARY law enforcement despite ALSO doing that job on top of SWAT activities and the rules in SWAt operations are not quite the same… irrespective ALL officers are allowed by law to use deadly force if they “perceive” a threat, which is done in a matter of seconds in a life and death environment and will INEVITABLY not always be correct it is an unavoidable fact which every law enforcement or armed forces person can attest to.

However let us not forget here this Bogus situation where an innocent man died was not perpetrated by the police it was created ENTIRELY by the swatter, the one who is FULLY to blame for putting EVERYONES life being at risk involved.

Also if you read the testimonies and witness statement online of the event which are now largely public record you will know that the shooting happened because Mr Finch failed to follow instructions for some reason while being taken into custody it was tragic and unfortunate but statements and bodycam footage supports it. This does not mean he is to blame in any way only to explain what followed.

The officer was investigated and cleared… but this situation NEVER would have happened, never should have happened if idiots were not SWATTING people to begin with it is utterly moronic and BOUND to end up with people dying needlessly.

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Hirku

It won’t do much good for innocent bystanders if the swatter phones in the wrong address like Barriss did, but at least it’s something. I agree with Neo that stiffer penalties are also needed.

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Robert Mann

Exactly, it’s passing off responsibility. It’s not a bad thing in and of itself, but as a response to the event in question it should be resulting in outrage.

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NeoWolf

A good idea, they should probably counterbalance it with stiffer penalties for swatters too in order to help discourage them to begin with.

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zoward

You’d think “20 years in prison” would convince a potential swatter that it’s a stupid idea.

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NeoWolf

Its certainly a precedent which is a start :)

But for me, I’d like to see a stiff penalty as a minimum for swatting whether someone ends up dead or not to further deter them from even considering it. Sending armed people under false pretences to anyone’s door for laughs is just a next level of human stupidity :(

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