A popular Twitch.tv livestreamer had some unwanted guest stars yesterday evening—the Seminole County, Fla. Sheriff's Office, summoned by a troll who phoned in a report of someone threatening others with a knife. You can see it play out here.
The guy pointing the camera at the cops above is Swifty, who has more than 150,000 followers on his Twitch.tv feed and routinely streams his exploits in World of Warcraft. Yesterday, though, someone was in a disruptive mood. Swifty was trolled by a pizza delivery sent to his door and then, much more seriously, two calls that sent police to the premises.
The first police response is above; it's hard to hear the off-mic discussion between Swifty and the authorities with the music soundtrack and the narrator playing Star Wars: The Old Republic. But he brings the cops on camera and explained what he was doing and why the sheriff's office might have been called to his home for a bogus call.
"Every restaurant within 10 miles from us—we're blacklisted," says a voice, either Swifty or a production assistant. "Seriously, would you guys like a slice?" he offers.
"Nah, we're good brother, appreciate it," says another voice off mic, apparently one of the deputies. "Have a good one, guys."
"They reported a police disturbance; you guys can't do that, man," Swifty groans, catching himself before he swears. "That's really bad, guys; you guys can't do that."
That wasn't the end of it. In this video, Swifty is disturbed by repeated doorbell rings. Again, it's hard to pick up what is said off-mic, but Swifty asks "can you trace that call?"
"They called and said we were threatening some dude with a knife," Swifty says, getting back on camera. The police were allowed to search the premises to determine nothing was wrong. The authorities responding to this call appear to be different from the first group, as someone re-explains the camera setup and livestreaming to them.
On his Twitter feed shortly after the incident, Swifty said he was filling out paperwork with the Sheriff's office and cutting the streaming session with his teammates short.
Then this morning he tweeted a picture of a Seminole County Sheriff's Office vehicle and said he was on his "2nd day of filling out reports."
"SWATting" is the slang term for this kind of troll behavior; it's not funny, and apparently has been such a problem in Washington state that legislators there were considering passing a law criminalizing this specific conduct. In one of the most prolific examples of SWATting, in 2011, authorities descended on the residence of an Xbox Live moderator in Sammamish, Wash., on a report that "two armed Russian males" had shot a person inside, taken hostages, and were armed with bombs. The call was false.
Let me repeat what I said last year. What makes SWATting so pernicious is the fact that public safety agencies take these reports seriously. It is their job. If they don't and it turns out someone was being threatened with a knife and someone is hurt or killed, that's a fundamental failure of their duty and the public trust.
Yeah, it's a bitch Swifty had two encounters with the cops and a paperwork episode stretching two days. But if it leads to the authorities finding this troll and making an example of him, so much the better.