In a concerning escalation of harassment against public figures, House Majority Whip Tom Emmer (R-MN) disclosed a harrowing experience Saturday evening on the X platform, formerly known as Twitter. Emmer’s family home was targeted in a “swatting” incident, a dangerous “prank” involving a fake 911 call to prompt a significant police response, often from a SWAT team.
“Tonight my family and I were the target of a “swatting” incident involving a 911 prank call that wrongly diverted a police presence to my home. Sadly, this illegal and dangerous scheme is being used nationwide to target elected officials.” Emmer wrote.
Tonight my family and I were the target of a “swatting” incident involving a 911 prank call that wrongly diverted a police presence to my home.
Sadly, this illegal and dangerous scheme is being used nationwide to target elected officials.
— Tom Emmer (@GOPMajorityWhip) January 28, 2024
This latest attack isn’t isolated. Last month, swatting incidents swept across the nation, victimizing over a dozen politicians and public figures, including Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley. The seriousness of these incidents cannot be overstated. In Haley’s case, the caller falsely claimed a shooting at her residence, a deception that could have had tragic consequences.
Moreover, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) has faced repeated swatting attempts at her home. The attacks have happened so often that local law enforcement has become accustomed to responding to the calls. However, they have to treat every one of the calls as if it were a legitimate threat.
Recognizing the gravity of these incidents, Sens. Rick Scott (R-FL) and Tommy Tuberville (R-AL) introduced the “Preserving Safe Communities by Ending Swatting Act.” The bill aims to impose severe penalties for swatting, a necessary step given the potentially deadly outcomes of these pranks.
Senator Scott, himself a victim of swatting, expressed his determination to end this menace. “This is happening around the nation, not just to elected officials, but also to hundreds of Jewish institutions. It’s sickening, dangerous and we must stop it,” Scott emphasized.
— The Hill (@thehill) January 29, 2024
By its very nature, swatting is not only a reckless waste of law enforcement resources but also a direct threat to the safety of its targets and the officers responding. The intent behind these calls is clearly to sow fear and chaos, exploiting the swift response of emergency services to create potentially harmful situations intentionally.
Emmer’s response to his swatting incident was gratitude toward the responding officers and condemnation of the misuse of police resources. The professionalism of the Wright County Sheriff’s Office, in this case, prevented any harm. Still, the potential for tragedy in such situations is always present.
The message from lawmakers like Emmer, Scott, Tuberville and others is clear — swatting is not a harmless joke, but a serious crime with real-world consequences. Introducing strict legislation to penalize such acts is necessary to deter potential perpetrators and protect individuals from these reckless and cowardly acts.