Planet Princeton

Mercer County emergency dispatch receives spate of false “swatting” calls

Dispatchers for Mercer County’s emergency communications  have received a series of false 9-1-1 calls, commonly known as swatting calls. The calls have been reported to the Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office.

Swatting calls trigger the dispatch of emergency response service teams to locations under the false pretense of a serious emergency. The callers use a variety of technology tricks, known as “spoofing,” to hide the caller’s real location and trick emergency authorities into responding to a fabricated emergency. The calls are hard to trace because of the technology used.

County dispatchers have received at least eight calls over two or three days falsely claiming there was a pediatric emergency, an unconscious child, the cardiac arrest of a child, smoke reported, shots fired, and shots fired near a school.

The suspected calls filtered through dispatch in a variety of ways including Text 9-1-1 and phone calls to area police. None were direct 9-1-1 calls.

False alarms potentially divert emergency responders away from legitimate emergencies. County officials have vowed to prosecute the perpetrators of the calls to the full extent of the law.

Krystal Knapp

Krystal Knapp is the founding editor of Planet Princeton. She can be reached via email at editor AT planetprinceton.com. Send all letters to the editor and press releases to that email address.

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