“Swatting” Affects Nearby Schools

Mid-February brought along over  twenty incidents of anonymous swatting toward local high schools; local police departments have investigated all of these threats and concluded that all so far have been hoaxes.   

“Swatting,” by definition, is the action or practice of making a prank call to emergency services in an attempt to bring about the dispatch of a large number of armed police officers to a particular address. These swatting incidents cause local police departments to use most, if not all, of their limited personnel to respond to these calls in case they are real. 

In the Boston neighborhood of Charlestown on Monday, February 17th, a call came into Boston Police about a supposed shooter en route to Charlestown High School. Police arrived on the scene and found nothing suspicious after thoroughly searching the school property. While the threat caused a delay in classes, Charlestown High students were still dismissed on time on Monday.

In an interview with Dean of Students Nicole Matson, Ms. Matson spoke on the threat made towards Charlestown High School, saying, “Someone made a prank call and named our school as one of the targeted schools, and we went into safe mode. We didn’t go into lockdown, we went into a safe mode.” She then explained, “When BPD came into our building they were unsure if it was real or not, but it did go out to a number of schools at the same time, so as a precaution they basically took it as a real threat.” 

Massachusetts is not the only state to be affected by these swatting calls. New Hampshire and Vermont have had various reports of swatting calls during the past weeks. While none of these calls have proved to be a real threat, there is a growing concern over the strain these calls put on local police departments and students.

These threats caused the attention of a majority of the local police department’s resources to ensure the safety of the students, which can divert the police from actual crises. 

These threats do much more than waste police resources; they also significantly impact the student body and administrators. Even knowing that a call was probably fake, people are sure to stress and worry about what would happen if the threat was real. It also causes much chaos as schools are required to enact a complete lockdown to ensure the safety of the students. This halts classes and puts all in a state of panic and worry. Schools like Charlestown try to keep their students informed as much as possible. Ms. Matson said Charlestown “tried to communicate as much as possible to the students so that their anxiety and their energy is not elevated.” These lockdowns can be very stressful for students, and staff worked to limit this worry.

It is still being determined who has made these calls or if they are connected. Still, it has caused many issues and obstructed the work of students and local authorities.