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Apr 13, 2015 10:15 PM

NH1 News Investigates: Fake police calls and 'swatting' in NH


KEENE - It's a frightening trend that's made its way right here to New Hampshire.

It's called swatting or fake 911 calls that bring out the SWAT teams when there's no emergency.

But we wanted to know why it's now happening here in the Granite State and who is footing the bill?

Last week in Keene, there were plenty of armed officers in Central Square, along with the Bearcat.

The caller told 911 that he had hostages and was holding them at gunpoint and demanded money.

In the end after police stormed the building, it turned out to be a hoax.

"Essentially they wanted an abundance of emergency personnel to respond to a fake call," said Lt. Brian O'Keefe. "But typically it never gets to that level because we realize beforehand that it is in fact a hoax and not a legitimate call."

It wasn't that time.

But as for the Queen City, Manchester Police say they've responded to a reported swatting call a few months back and once again they say it was a hoax.

These hoaxes wind up being quite costly.

"Roughly $2,500 per swatting call," said Lt. O'Keefe. When asked who's paying for it, he said, "well, the taxpayers make up the difference for that because it's all out of our budget."

Federal agents say that many times these calls are out of revenge or a prank.

Officers, most often on the West Coast, will respond just like they did in Keene but unlike in most cases, people inside the building are panicked and have no idea of what's going on.

All this, while police are unable to respond to real 911 emergencies.

"The 911 system is set up for a specific reason and that one and only reason is emergencies," said O'Keefe.

Keene Police refused our request for an interview saying it could encourage others to commit copycat crimes.

Now if someone is convicted of this crime, they could spend time in federal prison and be forced to pay restitution.


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