BOSTON (AP) — A Massachusetts congresswoman said she and her family were the victims of a so-called “swatting” attack — the very kind of bogus emergency call she has filed legislation to combat.
U.S. Rep. Katherine Clark, a Democrat from Melrose, said she was home Sunday night with her husband and two children at about 10 p.m. when police swarmed her house after responding to what investigators described as a “computer-generated phone call” stating that shots had been fired at the home.
Melrose Police Chief Michael Lyle said police quickly determined it was a false report and that it appeared someone was trying to elicit a police response.
Clark is pushing legislation aimed at cracking down on the practice, called “swatting” because it’s designed to provoke a response by police SWAT teams. She said the tactic is often used to harass journalists, academics, domestic violence survivors and celebrities.
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The bill would close what she called a loophole in federal law by prohibiting the use of the interstate telecommunications system to knowingly transmit false information with the intent to cause an emergency law enforcement response. The bill is co-sponsored by U.S. Rep. Patrick Meehan, a Pennsylvanian Republican.
“No mother should have to answer the door to the police in the middle of the night and fear for her family’s safety simply because an anonymous person disagrees with her,” Clark said in a written statement Monday.
Clark said swatting attacks are a danger to victims, first responders and emergency preparedness efforts. She said the FBI estimates 400 swatting attacks occur every year.
The Democrat filed the bill last year after what she said was a string of swatting incidents in her district.