Calgary, AB,

Charges laid in multiple swatting calls

The Calgary Police Service has charged two men in connection with unrelated swatting occurrences.

Swatting occurs when a person falsely reports a serious incident in an attempt to bring about the dispatch of a large number of police resources to a particular address. The Service takes swatting events extremely seriously and will investigate each incident thoroughly. Swatting calls have the potential to create significant risks for both public and officer safety and can require an extensive amount of resources to respond and investigate.

East Village Swatting Calls

Between June 4 and July 4, 2019, the Calgary Police Service received 23 swatting calls in the East Village, where the caller stated he was a witness of a crime involving a weapon, or a medical emergency. The caller routinely stayed on the phone with the call taker for up to 30 minutes and observed police respond.

A coordinated investigation was established and during a swatting call on July 4, 2019, officers were able to locate the suspect in a residence in the 600 block of 6 Avenue S.E. A search warrant was subsequently executed on the residence and a number of electronic items were seized for forensic analysis.

Investigators believe the same suspect may be responsible for eight additional swatting calls that occurred in southwest Calgary between April 24 and May 3, 2019, as well as 55 additional calls to 9-1-1 since September 2018. Although these additional calls did not meet the threshold for criminal charges, each call required emergency dispatch and police resources.

Zachary James JAKEMAN, 25, was charged with 35 offences related to public mischief and making a false statement. He was also arrested on an outstanding warrant. JAKEMAN will next appear in court on Thursday, Oct. 10, 2019.

Downtown Highrise

At approximately 9:50 a.m., on Thursday, Sept. 26, 2019, police received multiple reports of a man with a gun in a corporate highrise in the 600 block of 3 Avenue S.W.

Staff within the building enacted emergency lockdown procedures, forcing 50 to 60 employees to either hide in their offices, or flee the building. Police responded to the undetermined threat, closing roads in the area and clearing the building.

An investigation ensued that identified the location of the calls and a potential suspect.

On Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2019, Shing LAM, 31, was arrested and charged with making a false statement and public mischief. LAM will next appear in court on Tuesday, Oct. 22, 2019.

Costs of Swatting

Though swatting is an issue for most law enforcement agencies, comprehensive data is typically not available to assist in understanding how large or widespread the issue is, or the totality of the cost on police resources in response.

The East Village swatting series provided a unique opportunity for Calgary Police Service analysts to determine an estimated response cost to CPS.

A total of 86 separate swatting calls were attributed to this series and analysts identified the following outcomes based on wages and other indirect costs such as equipment:

  • Approximately 612 officer service hours were expended in response to the swatting calls that occurred in 2019. This does not include hours of work for call takers and dispatchers at Calgary 9-1-1. The estimated financial cost attributed to this is $82,720.
  • A total of 36 personnel, both sworn and civilian, from six investigative teams, were involved in the investigation. The total investigative hours is estimated at 1,075. The total estimated cost for the investigation is approximately $97,587.
  • A conservative estimate for the total call response and investigative cost for the swatting calls attributed to the East Village series, is approximately 1,687 hours or approximately $180,308.

This is a significant expense and drain of resources that could have otherwise been invested in legitimate calls for service by the public.

“Swatting calls are costly. They endanger the public, our officers and divert limited emergency resources from people who really do need help. We have no choice but to respond as though every call we get is real, and even though we are glad these serious incidents turn out to be fake, there is still a very real cost to Calgarians,” says Staff Sergeant Jodi Gach, of the District 1 General Investigations Unit.