Reply All: #15 I've Killed People And I Have Hostages
March 4, 2015 9:47 PM - Subscribe

Blair Myhand is a police officer in the sleepy, 40,000 person town of Apex, NC. One night, he received an unusually disturbing phone call where a person claimed to be holding a woman hostage after murdering several people. Myhand assembled his team, and went to the house, but what they ended up finding was much more bizarre.
posted by radioamy (12 comments total)
Serious topic, handled well. It's a weird world we live in where swatting is a normal, well-known "prank" that young people not only have an awareness of, but know what to do if it happens to them.
posted by jazon at 6:39 AM on March 5, 2015

Reply All frequently covers topics that I have absolutely no knowledge of, but this one blew me away...I know people are jerks, and I have read about the fame of people like pewdiepie, but the "swatting" phenomenon is just...I can't believe that. They're not just wasting resources, they could actually kill someone.

Also I did know that people made money off gaming but I am sorta flabbergasted that supposedly pewdiepie's net worth is $12M! I feel like an old fogie. Although I did appreciate the recent South Park where Cartman was a pewdiepie-like celeb.
posted by radioamy at 11:49 AM on March 5, 2015

Also welcome back Alex from paternity leave, and I'm glad that PJ will be getting some much-needed rest.
posted by radioamy at 11:49 AM on March 5, 2015

Watching swatting video was weirdly discomfiting. I mean, I expected it to be weird to some degree, but I was much more wigged out by just how watchable they were. I understand why people would do it. Especially kids at an age where they don't have an incredible grasp on the idea of mortality. It's hard to know the motives of a swatter, but it stands to reason that they simply don't understand what they could potentially be doing.
posted by Alex Goldman at 1:22 PM on March 5, 2015 [2 favorites]

The similarities between swatting videos and television shows must be striking. I can see why there is a push to make the consequences more serious and impacting. It's kind of like yelling FIRE in a theater - the consequences of the action are so, so grave.

What's worse is that the person initiating the swatting could be hundreds of miles away. It's sad how limiting the 911 system is - no easy way to accurately trace who made the call if it's a cell phone, or a skype call, or even a spoof call. And the results end up on youtube! Complete self gratification!!

It's the boy who cried wolf writ large, with deadly consequences.
posted by jazon at 2:12 PM on March 5, 2015

I find it intensely disturbing that a town that has had two murders, ever, can have a (part time) SWAT team. Also I assume this is only going to stop -- or be restricted to GG-type people who are doing it to harass and not as a prank -- once this turns fatal, because I am a pessimist.
posted by jeather at 6:10 PM on March 5, 2015 [2 favorites]

Yeah I'm sure it's too much to go into but this phenomenon is intimately connected to the hyper militarization of local police. One motivation not covered by the show is the general hatred and disgust towards cops by the gamers calling in the SWATs and the added benefit of being delighted at how stupid they look falling for the prank.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 5:50 AM on March 6, 2015 [1 favorite]

Yeah, I don't think that they needed to go into that in the podcast itself, it wouldn't have fit. But I find the excessive militarization of police much more disturbing than the idea of swatting as a prank, or even as harassment.
posted by jeather at 7:45 AM on March 6, 2015

Potomac Avenue, that's an interesting point that I hadn't considered.
posted by radioamy at 1:29 PM on March 6, 2015

Re: Militarization -

So, as a little peek behind the curtain, there was originally an alternate ending to this ep but when we recorded it, it just wasn't working so we rewrote. I'm now forgetting (because I have read/listened to 8 different versions of this episode) whether it ended up in the final one, but we had a line in there at one point about how SWAT raids are at 50,000 annually, up from 3,000 in 1980, according to an ACLU study.

It was hard to describe just what Myhand was. "Part Time SWAT team" is confusing and inexact, and we went back and forth over whether to actually explain it in the episode. The deal is that there are a couple police officers in Apex that are trained in swat tactics and if there is a case in which they need to be deployed (unclear how often this happens) they are called up. But they are, aside from those brief moments, just regular on duty cops. Still pretty wild that Apex feels it needs SWAT training.
posted by Alex Goldman at 4:06 AM on March 7, 2015 [3 favorites]

Alex, thanks for the additional insight.

I do think that stat about SWAT raids was in the final cut.

Also as to whether any place needs SWAT...I grew up in Marin County, just north of San Francisco which is more or less an upper-class/upper-middle-class haven for white people. We definitely had a SWAT team. I don't know how active they were or if it was similar to Apex's, but in the late 90's post-Columbine "hey it would be cool to fake a bomb scare" era, they definitely showed up at my high school school a few times. So it doesn't shock me that a place like Apex has officers trained for very serious situations.
posted by radioamy at 11:54 AM on March 7, 2015

TMZ is reporting that Lil Wayne has been swatted.

My first reaction was surprise that this doesn't happen more often. *sigh.*
posted by radioamy at 12:50 PM on March 11, 2015

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