The term “swatting” refers to making false emergency calls that prompt police departments to send SWAT teams or other emergency crews to an address, typically with the claim that an armed intruder is inside the home.

Mankato Department of Public Safety Director Todd Miller.

Last week a man in Kansas was shot to death by police after such a call.

Mankato Department of Public Safety Director Todd Miller said making bogus 911 calls can end in catastrophe and, “The danger of that is, as we’ve seen in the past and in recent events, that tragedies can happen. It is a serious crime to do that, a false report, and we will aggressively investigate things like that should they occur.”

But Miller doesn’t want such incidents to keep the people of Mankato from reporting something suspicious, even if they’re uncertain. He said calls that sound like, “‘I’m not sure that this is happening, but I’m a little suspicious so I’m reporting it.’ That’s the type of thing we want to have happen.”

He gave a shout out to Blue Earth County Dispatchers, whom Miller said are critical when it comes to assessing 911 calls. They are on alert for typically suspicious calls where, “They say an incident is occurring and then hang up. That tends to put us on notice that it’s either two things,” Miller explained, “One is there is an actual incident and whatever is occurring at the scene is causing that person not to be able to talk or that it can be a falsely reported incident trying to elicit response.”

Miller adds that advancements in technology have made it easier to track down such calls, even those made from cell phones, and easier to catch those responsible for placing them.