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Seattle police try new opt-in registry system to combat SWATting

Seattle police try new opt-in registry system to combat SWATting

October 1, 2018 | By Alex Wawro

October 1, 2018 | By Alex Wawro
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This week Seattle's police department is launching a new opt-in registry system aimed at making it harder for people to harass others by filing hoax emergency reports (aka "SWATting") which might lead an armed response team to show up at an innocent person's door.

This is a big deal because SWATting has caused a number of injuries and at least one death, not to mention countless needlessly stressful situations. If you're a game dev in the Seattle area who likes to livestream, this seems like a program you might be interested in.

Even if you're not, it's a notable effort on the part of the Seattle P.D. that illustrates how law enforcement agencies can do more to stay informed about who they're pointing their weapons at and why.

"The Seattle Police Department has received requests to create a registry where residents concerned about swatting can communicate those concerns to their local 911 Center," reads an excerpt of the announcement. "Our challenge was to move forward and implement an improved business process while protecting the privacy of the community we serve. To our knowledge, no solution to this problem existed, so we engineered one."

As Ars Technica points out, Seattle police already maintain an opt-in online registry for people to volunteer important information about themselves they want emergency services to know about (allergies or medical issues, for example). Now they've expanded that registry out (with the help of Smart911's Rave Facility) to make room for submitting information law enforcement should know about specific locations -- like your home or your studio, for example.

When a call comes in regarding that location, dispatchers will reportedly mobilize a response team and then check the database to see if there's anything they should know -- like the fact that whoever lives there likes to stream video games. and is concerned about being SWATted.

You can find more details, as well as detailed instructions for how to register your location as somewhere you think might get SWATted (the code is literally "SWATTING CONCERNS"), on the Seattle P.D.'s "How to Protect Yourself from SWATting" page.



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