LA police to withhold info on celeb hoax 911 calls
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Los Angeles police said Thursday that they will no longer routinely issue news releases or offer immediate confirmation on hoax 911 calls targeting the homes of celebrities.
The announcement comes after several high-profile “swatting” incidents in recent months that have sent emergency responders to the homes of celebrities including Tom Cruise, Justin Bieber and Ashton Kutcher.
The move is intended to deny the publicity that motivates the prank callers.
“We’re going to try to reduce and eliminate their recognition,” LAPD spokesman Officer Christopher Ngo said.
The department will not immediately confirm the incidents for news organizations either, police Cmdr. Andy Smith told the Los Angeles Times. Media outlets will instead be required to file formal public records requests.
The term comes from the pranksters’ desire to have heavily armed special weapons teams dispatched to their calls.
The calls, sometimes made by children, can tie up resources ranging from dispatchers, patrol officers, detectives helicopters and police dogs.
In December, police arrested a 12-year-old boy suspected of placing swatting calls at numerous homes, including Kutcher’s. That call summoned many heavily-armed officers to the house, brought widespread media coverage and prompted the actor to leave the set of his TV show “Two and a Half Men.”
The Beverly Hills Police Department estimated more than half of its emergency resources were occupied with the Cruise swatting call on Jan. 17.
A rash of hoaxes aimed at celebrities followed the Cruise call.