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Report of SLC shooting latest ‘swatting’ incident to impact police and 911 resources

Posted at 6:28 PM, Apr 11, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-11 20:28:29-04

SALT LAKE CITY —
Salt Lake City police were dispatched to the area of 1500 E and Kensington Avenue, just before 10 p.m. Sunday night.

Police say the call originally came in as a woman who had been shot by her boyfriend.

Through the course of their investigation, police say they found out this was actually a swatting situation and that nobody's life was in jeopardy.

Swatting involves someone making a fake call or report to get police and law enforcement officials to respond to a certain area.

"It's really frustrating, because you know our people care about the community," said Stephen Meyer, Executive Director with Salt Lake City 911.

Meyers says they take about 600,000 calls, on average, every year.

Meyer says dispatchers go through at least six months of on the job training, plus an evaluation phase for another six months.

He says they learn how to handle every type of call, from medical emergencies to serious swat calls.

"We can't assume that a call is a hoax or anything like that, we have to take it completely seriously, so we handle all calls the same regardless," said Meyer.

That impacts resources, not only for 911, but also police officers called to the scene.

"Where it's fictitious in nature, you know that can create some problems where, you know, it takes away our ability to respond to actual emergencies and calls for service that our community members might be calling in for," said Sgt. Mark Wian, Salt Lake City Police Department.

Utah has seen several swatting calls over the past few years, including one in Hooper back in 2018.

That particular incident saw Weber County Sheriff's deputies dispatched to a home, looking for a dead body and a shooter, before finding out it was a hoax.

In 2016, House Bill 225 modified Utah law to address cyber crimes and criminalize swatting.

"It could under the circumstances, where they did deploy a SWAT unit, could result in some jail time for the individual that made the false call," said Greg Skordas, a local defense attorney.

As for 911 and police, they are urging people to think twice before ever making a swatting call.

"It brings unnecessary stress, unnecessary alarm, you know, when this could just totally be prevented by just not doing it," said Sgt. Wian.

Salt Lake City Police say there is still an ongoing investigation into this incident but would not confirm if anyone has been arrested.

They tell FOX 13 News they will be doing some follow up investigation to see if there is anything that rises to a criminal level.