The fact that swatting is 1) incredibly easy to do once the necessary information about a person has been found out, and 2) so dangerous to the person being swatted, leads me to agree with Krebs about the necessary charging. Looking at “War Comes Home,” the ACLU’s report on police militarization, it becomes clear that a SWAT attack is a seriously dangerous situation. I hope that the Lizard Squad members (and anyone else who engages in swatting and is arrested) are punished with serious force commensurate to the heinous nature of the crime, which puts the lives of innocents in danger at the hands of unwitting law enforcement officers.
Those two facts would lead me to different (though perhaps orthogonal) conclusion: It should not be standard operating procedure for police forces to endanger innocent people’s lives by carrying out raids with heavily armed, untrained soldiers.
I disagree with the characterisation of law enforcement officers as ‘unwitting’. The officers who participate in raids (with results like this — no charges for the police who attacked a two-year old with a grenade, of course) also need to be held responsible for their actions.
You’re right. The fact that police regularly engage in armed raids with little evidence on civilians is a problem. However, there is also a compelling societal interest in protecting against imminent attack. The question then becomes how the decision to use SWAT is evaluated. While I don’t think SWAT should be eliminated, I do think it should be used far less often than it is today.
On the second point, what I meant by “unwitting” is simply that the officers are acting on the arguably reasonable assumption that the information they have is credible, and are thus acting in good faith to protect the people. However, they are unwittingly participating in a coercive and criminal action to intimidate an innocent individual. I agree that officers need to be held responsible for their actions, but as I said above, I don’t think engaging in a SWAT raid is inherently an irresponsible action.