WASHINGTON — Following swatting attacks which rampaged schools and communities across the country, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer demanded the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) immediately lay out a plan to combat these assaults that leave public safety at risk and waste thousands of dollars in valuable resources.
Prior to Schumer’s calls, there was no central federal agency tracking attacks. However, following his push, the FBI has created a national database open to all federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies to help combat these dangerous hoax calls.
After standing with students across New York, including those at Troy High School in April, to call for new federal action following a dangerous wave of swatting attacks targeting schools, on Friday Schumer applauded the FBI for heeding his calls to create the first-ever national database to track these terrifying hoax calls. Schumer said the FBI’s new National Swatting Virtual Command Center (VCC), which facilitates information sharing between police departments and law enforcement agencies across the country on swatting incidents, is a major step towards protecting communities and schools in Upstate New York and across the country, holding criminals accountable, and curbing these harmful swatting attacks.
“Swatting is a pervasive, dangerous, and expensive crime that has plagued communities across New York with fear and sent local law enforcement scrambling for answers,” Schumer said in a news release from his office.
“Yet, after years of increasing attacks, there has been no proactive effort to track, let alone stop, swatting attacks in their tracks. Finally, after I stood with students across upstate New York, from Lockport to Troy, to demand the FBI start treating these swatting ‘pranks’ as the dangerous crime that they are, the federal agency has heeded my calls and is not only tracking these crimes, but also launching a new centralized command center to log them in, helping local law enforcement to exchange, track, and share information like never before,” Schumer explained.
Schumer noted how the FBI’s new VCC, which was established in May 2023, is open to all federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies, as well as fusion centers. To date, there are 230+ current members and have been 138 entries of reported swatting instances. Schumer said that according to the FBI, this is the first time ever that the federal government has created a centralized command center for law enforcement agencies across the country to exchange, track, and share information related to swatting incidents and is a key step towards being able to better understand the nature and prevalence of these crimes.
“Prior to my calls, there was no proactive effort to track swatting incidents on the national level by the federal government. This critical step will help law enforcement across the country better understand the increases in this disturbing trend and help better hold criminals accountable for the panic they cause from swatting attacks. I am proud to see the feds taking action to help curb these dangerous swatting incidents and I won’t stop fighting to give law enforcement the tools they need to put an end to this disturbing trend once and for all,” Schumer noted.
Schumer explained that “swatting” has been a growing trend in recent years in which a phone call or false report is made to unsuspecting residents’ home, school, or other public place in order to evoke a police or SWAT team response. On the morning of Thursday, March 30, New York saw an unprecedented series of swatting attacks leading to police having to respond to more than 220 K-12 schools across the state after they received false reports of a mass shooting. Schools across the state were forced into lockdown with students and staff sheltering in place until law enforcement confirmed the threats were not credible. In some cases, students and staff were in lockdown for close to an hour, not only disrupting the school day but also causing panic and emotional turmoil throughout the school.
Schumer added the creation of this national database will help identify the commonalities between these crimes, and provides real-time situational awareness and critical information management to law enforcement to go after the criminals who commit these dangerous attacks.