Prank Calls To SWAT No Joke To L.A. County Sheriffs

Swat Team members are fuming over two recent operations in the Los Angeles area that were the result of prank calls, part of what police say is a growing national problem known as "SWATing," the Long Beach Press-Telegram reports.

In a "SWATing," pranksters, displaying fake phone numbers, call 911 dispatchers. These fake numbers prevent authorities from tracing the real identities of the prank callers who report false crimes such as mass shootings.

Dispatchers at the L.A. County Sheriff's Norwalk office fielded a call Wednesday from a man who said that a woman he was with was having trouble breathing. The incident soon turned "violent" as the man then told the dispatcher that he shot the woman and would shoot any deputies that arrived on the scene. The dispatcher heard 10 shots during the phone call, then 10 more a few minutes later.

"In the first few minutes, we were convinced the call was real. But when the deputies pulled up to the scene, they didn't hear any shots." Capt. Patrick Maxwell told the Press-Telegram.

The deputies soon realized it was a hoax. Police also believe the same caller made a similar prank call on Aug. 18 to the Lomita Sheriff's station.

Randal Ellis, Washington state teenager who made 185 prank phone calls to 911 operators across the country, was sentenced to three years in prison, according to the Press-Telegram.

"The 911 system is not set up for this,'' Roger Hixson, technical issues director for the National Emergency Number Association told the Press-Telegram. "There's no technological way to deal with this yet."

With reporting from City News Service

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