Statement from Congressman Engel on ‘Swatting' Incident in Westchester County

Statement from Congressman Engel on ‘Swatting’ Incident in Westchester County

Washington, D.C. – Congressman Eliot Engel, a senior member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, decried the swatting incident that took place in Westchester County yesterday and renewed his call to bring his Anti-Swatting Act to the House floor for a vote.

“Swatting” refers to the act of provoking an emergency response team to respond to a phony crisis.

Named for the SWAT teams that are often deployed in response to these hoaxes, swatting puts Americans’ tax dollars and safety at risk. According to the FBI, a single SWAT team deployment can cost thousands of taxpayer dollars. Swatting also risks injury to those present when a response team arrives at a supposed crime scene, as well as to the officials who mount that response, expecting danger.

“The swatting that took place yesterday is emblematic of the widespread panic these hoaxes can cause,” Engel said. “Reports of a child in the Byram River prompted responses from Port Chester, Westchester County, Rye and Greenwich police units. This incident wasted both taxpayer dollars and law enforcement’s precious time.

“This is not the first swatting incident to take place in Westchester – already, multiple swatters have put our first responders at risk and kept them from responding to actual, life-threatening emergencies. That is why I authored the Anti-Swatting Act, which seeks to curtail these hoaxes by enhancing penalties for people who falsify their caller ID information to incite a response to a fake emergency.

“I hope the House will move swiftly to approve this legislation, and bring us one step closer to ending these crimes for good.”

Congressman Engel introduced the Anti-Swatting Act (H.R. 2031) on April 27, 2015, following multiple incidents in New York’s 16th district. An incident also occurred at LaGuardia Airport in August.

The bill has garnered bipartisan support and was unanimously approved by the House Energy and Commerce Committee on April 28, 2016. It awaits consideration by the House Judiciary Committee.