You remember that change in Casttle Doctrine law the General Assembly passed last year, the one that has public safety officials trembling in fear that it's now open season on cops? Apparently, some cops aren't as trembly as others. A heavily armed SWAT team in Evansville kicked in the storm door of a home where 18-year-old Stephanie Mill was watching TV and threw a flash-bang stun grenade in on her. But -- whoops! -- turns out they were at the wrong door:
The Courier & Press said the police had been investigating "anonymous and specific online threats made against police and their families on the website topix.com," and had obtained a search warrant for the Milan house. An Evansville police officer said one of the threats that came from the Milan household mentioned explosives and said, "Evansville is going to feel the pain."
Whoever made these threats, the Courier & Press said, likely remotely routed them through the Milan's open Wi-Fi connection, which means it could have been used from an outside location. It's possible the Milans, or specifically Stephanie, were targets of "swatting," a particularly nasty prank by which the perpetrator — often through hoax 911 calls — tricks a SWAT team into raiding a house of his choosing.
That darn open wi-fi; how in the world are the police supposed to cope with something so new-fangled and sophisticated?
At least they can learn from their mistakes. When police finally found the right house, one with a rebellious teenager on the same block, they went in with a little less force:
This time, apparently recognizing they had gone a little nuts on the first raid, the police department didn’t send a SWAT team at all. Despite believing that they now had the right location and that a threat-making bomber lurked within, they just sent officers up to the door.
“We did surveillance on the house, we knew that there were little kids there, so we decided we weren’t going to use the SWAT team,” the police chief told the paper after the second raid. “We did have one officer with a ram to hit the door in case they refused to open the door. That didn’t happen, so we didn’t need to use it.”
Say, here's an idea. Let's not send a SWAT team first thing. Maybe a little surveillance or even an old-fashioned visit by a uniformed cop might be in order first.
"Swatting," by the way, should be considered much more more than a "nasty prank." As this incident shows, the potential for danger is real and immediate. Does somebody have to die before it's taken seriously?