Two people have been charged in unrelated cases after 86 swatting calls cost 612 Calgary police officer hours.
Swatting is when a person falsely reports a police incident to attract a large police response to a specific location.
According to Calgary police, between June 4 and July 4, 2019 police received 23 swatting calls in the East Village, where the caller said he witnessed a crime involving a weapon, or a medical emergency. The caller would stay on the phone for up to 30 minutes with call taker watching police respond.
RELATED: Battling Calgary gun crime needs a multi-faceted approach: Coun. George Chahal
An investigation was conducted and Zachary James Jakeman, 25, is now charged with 35 offenses related to public mischief.
Police believe the accused may be responsible for another eight southwest Calgary swatting calls, and 55 other calls going back to September 2018.
In another case, police were called to a downtown Calgary highrise on Sept. 26 in the 600 block of 3 Avenue SW after reports of a man with a gun. Lockdown procedures were undertaken by staff in the buildings.
Police responded, closing roads and clearing the building.
After an investigation of the call, police charged Shing Lam, 31, with public mischief and making a false statement.
The costs of the cases
Thirty-six investigators and 1,075 hours were spent on this case – totalling $97,587.
Total call response and investigative cost for the East Village swatting calls is 1,687 hours – totalling roughly $180,308, police said.
“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,” said Staff Sergeant Jodi Gach, of the District 1 General Investigations Unit.
Police said swatting is a problem for most law enforcement agencies. The East Village case allowed them to determine a response cost to city police.