1. Simon Price

    Simon Price Active Member

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    Would swatting a criminal work?

    Discussion in 'Research' started by Simon Price, Jun 23, 2019.

    So, my protagonists have a problem. They've discovered that somebody in their town is secretly running an illegal operation inside his house and has several kidnapped people locked in his basement. The problem is that they only discovered this because one of them secretly has supernatural clairvoyance powers, and thus they can't prove anything to the police. So they sit down and discuss alternative methods of bringing the criminal to justice and saving the victims, before they resort to taking matters into their own hands and breaking into his house to get his prisoners out of there. And one of them has a very illegal, but simple-sounding solution: swat him.

    The idea would be that they'd call in a fake emergency at the criminal's address (while disguising their identities) while they know (via the aforementioned powers) that if the police raided the house at that time, he'd be caught red-handed doing what he's actually guilty of. He's caught, he goes to jail, and his victims would be saved.

    However, this seems like such an obvious and dangerous loophole to unlawful search and seizure that I'm thinking I'm missing something here and this wouldn't actually work for some reason. Are my instincts correct?
     
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2019
  2. The Dapper Hooligan

    The Dapper Hooligan (V) ( ;,,;) (v) Contributor

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    Laws depend on where your story is taking place, so I'll answer vaguely based on experience with the Canadian Police (and keep in mind, I'm not a legal expert), but if something like that happened, whatever illegal activities were there would have to be on full display of the breaching officers. If there were drugs on premises and the police found them on the kitchen table, then they could get an adjusted search warrant for the place, but if they were locked in a safe, or dresser drawer, the officers have no reason to be in there and opening them to find drugs would be an unlawful search. But then again, it all depends what's on the warrant, and what's on there depends on where you are and typical procedure, though I find it unlikely that when police arrive on a scene and find out this is, what would essentially be to them, a prank, that they'd insist on riffling drawers just to make sure. You're protagonist could also face criminal charges if they they can be tied the call.
     
  3. Iain Aschendale

    Iain Aschendale Guardian-eating, tofu-reading dormivitus Supporter Contributor

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    I like the premise. I think that your question hinges on what the protags hope to accomplish. If all they want to do is get the hostages freed, swatting would work (as long as the bad guys didn't decide to kill them all or something. Once the victims are free, I think their testimony should certainly still be admissable, even if some physical evidence might get ruled inadmissable.

    How much information can the psychic provide the police? (S)he could claim to be an escaped victim and give enough details of the inside of the house that their story would appear to be genuine, even if during the 9-1-1 call (or whatever) they didn't give any personal details.

    I think it's a cool concept that would pass the average person's legal knowledge test. Most of the stuff that went on on Bones or Castle or Miami Vice would have been inadmissable too, and when I worked public safety, the police officers said that if you wanted to to see horrible police work that would end in blown cases, just turn on your TV to COPS.
     
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  4. Iain Aschendale

    Iain Aschendale Guardian-eating, tofu-reading dormivitus Supporter Contributor

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    Ooh, just found this. Some YouTuber in Chicago got swatted a few years ago, cops found a large quantity of marijuana, arrested him for it, but then dropped the charges since they said the evidence wouldn't hold up.

    https://dotesports.com/general/news/whiteboy7thst-marijuana-pot-arrest-733
     
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  5. Iain Aschendale

    Iain Aschendale Guardian-eating, tofu-reading dormivitus Supporter Contributor

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  6. Cave Troll

    Cave Troll It's Coffee O'clock everywhere. Contributor

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    Yeah Swatting is a nasty thing gamers do to someone they don't like.
    So unless they find the people locked up in their first search, you are
    pretty much spinning your wheels.
    Not only does it mess with the person on the receiving end, but it could
    have potential backlash to the person making the call.
    @Iain Aschendale is right though, since a swat team isn't going to fuck
    around, they can and have made mistakes costing the person being swatted
    killed and found to be of no fault to the charges alleged against them. So
    do a bit of research into what all is entailed in Swatting. :)
     
  7. Simon Price

    Simon Price Active Member

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    That was another idea I tossed around as an option, though with that idea, to make things more narratively interesting, I thought that in order to make it sufficiently convincing they'd have to sneak into the house to make the call on the criminal's own landline. You see, the reason I figured they can't just call in the swat team for the actual offense is because the crime he's actually committing is pretty bizarre and would raise eyebrows getting in the way of an unproven police raid.

    Shoot! Sorry, I forgot to clarify this is taking place in America, specifically in New Jersey.

    Hmmm... as long as the severity of the offense doesn't change the invalidity of the evidence, that actually gives me some interesting narrative options. They can save the kidnapped people, but render all evidence of his crime inadmissible as evidence, or they can try something else to get both done.
     
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  8. The Dapper Hooligan

    The Dapper Hooligan (V) ( ;,,;) (v) Contributor

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    I can't remember where I read it, but apparently at the end of pretty much every CSI episode, the bad guy ended up confessing to the crime. And apparently that was written in, not only to speed up closure and character validation, but because it was the only realistic way any the charges being filed would realistically stick.
     
  9. Iain Aschendale

    Iain Aschendale Guardian-eating, tofu-reading dormivitus Supporter Contributor

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    LOL, I forgot about CSI:

    "Hey, here's a hair from the crime scene, and two I just pulled from the head of the suspect in holding. Make sure they match, or that little girl is going to go unavenged!"

    "Gotcha boss, one match coming up."
     
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  10. Homer Potvin

    Homer Potvin A tombstone hand and a graveyard mind Staff Supporter Contributor

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    If they're clairvoyant, why wouldn't they just lie and say they witnessed the victims firsthand? All the details would match, so how could a defense attorney prove that they didn't see what was actually there?
     
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  11. Iain Aschendale

    Iain Aschendale Guardian-eating, tofu-reading dormivitus Supporter Contributor

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    It's hard to get the police to do anything more than knock politely on the door with just a 9-1-1 call. If the clairvoyant was willing to go to the station, identify themselves, and swear out a complaint, the cops could probably get a warrant, but I get the feeling (could be wrong) that they aren't up for that level of personal risk?
     
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  12. Simon Price

    Simon Price Active Member

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    Fair enough. Rather boring solution, which is what I was afraid of, but I can't really argue with it.
     
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  13. The Dapper Hooligan

    The Dapper Hooligan (V) ( ;,,;) (v) Contributor

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    Make the complaint to the police, then follow it up by giving the information to the local news. If the cops don't do anything, then they face pressure, not only from the media, but concerned groups of citizens. I would imagine in that situation, the police would want to put in at least a little more than a door knock on the off chance that it did turn into something so they wouldn't be shown negligent.

    Or it could be the type of clairvoyant that sees some things, but not others. Like what was going on in Minority Report.
     
  14. Homer Potvin

    Homer Potvin A tombstone hand and a graveyard mind Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I'd agree if we were talking about a potential meth lab or maybe a small prostitution ring, but several missing persons that would be part of an ongoing investigation with FBI oversight? I'd hope a judge would sign a warrant for that lickety-split. I mean, Tom, Dick, and Harry are missing and an eye witness has them ID'd at the same joint? That's medals, promotions, and interviews on CNN for whomever cracks the case. Cops and DAs are whores... at least the ones I know.
     
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  15. Simon Price

    Simon Price Active Member

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    That actually is what's going on. Clairvoyance may not have been the most accurate way to describe it, I just didn't want to waste people's time with details. Basically he has the ability to hack into the sensory input of any of the last several people he's touched. At any time he can start seeing everything they see, hearing everything they hear, etc., and he can also supply his own senses to them, either/or or both, if he likes. Basically he's convinced to spy on this person for unrelated reasons and discovers all of this by accident. But that doesn't really help limit things here, as beyond the limitation of having to have touched the person (which he's already done) he can just keep using the criminal's eyes for as long as he needs to unless he makes contact with too many people afterwards and loses the connection.
     
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  16. jannert

    jannert Retired Mod Supporter Contributor

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    Here's a little bit of outside-the-box thinking, and there would be little risk as long as the people are careful.

    Why not flypost the whole area? Give details on the poster of the address of the house, what's happening there, etc, with a very catchy headline ...even a photo? (Say exactly what is happening there—what the illegal operation is, the fact that people are being held hostage, etc.) Then, under dark of night, stick the posters up on every available tree, post, etc, within a fairly wide area. Even dump some through the post to various addresses and to the local newspaper—and of course to the police.

    Surely SOMEBODY would get curious? The newspaper certainly would....
     
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  17. Iain Aschendale

    Iain Aschendale Guardian-eating, tofu-reading dormivitus Supporter Contributor

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    Okay, I like your first idea.

    But more important than that is that you need to know the efficacy and consequences of the solutions your characters attempt. They do not. I'm re-watching Breaking Bad with Mrs. A and a whole lot of things hinge on "You didn't think that one through thoroughly, did you son?"

    Objectively bad ideas are nothing but gorgeous plot drivers.
     
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  18. big soft moose

    big soft moose An Admoostrator Staff Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

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    Also reality - particularly of police work- is boring . That is why so many crime shows (and books) are unrealistic. It's also why i set my police books in the near future in a fictional city so i can make stuff up without worrying about realism.

    so long as the idea passes the average readers suspension of disbelief test its fine

    (in worth dying for, jack reacher pulls out the sump plug on a truck with his bare hands while the driver is trying to run him over... anyone who's tried to change their oil knows how unrealistic that is, but they don't care because its escapist adventure fiction it's not supposed to be real and boring)
     
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  19. Homer Potvin

    Homer Potvin A tombstone hand and a graveyard mind Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Unrelated, but remember when doing your own oil change was a thing? Now they engineer cars so you have to remove half the front end to get to the oil filter. And don't get me started on headlights and how they've managed to make the bulbs inaccessible to human hands. The car companies, mechanics, and auto-part manufacturers are all in cahoots!

    Sorry for the derail.
     
  20. Simpson17866

    Simpson17866 Contributor Contributor

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    Hey, just because one step looks boring doesn't mean something can't happen as a result that complicates everything ;)

    If your characters did this, what might happen next?
     
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  21. Matt E

    Matt E Ruler of the planet Omicron Persei 8 Contributor

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    They call the police claiming to be one of the hostages who got free and found a phone, then describe exactly where the hostages are held. The police respond and free them, then learn that none of the hostages made the call. At that point everyone is seriously confused, but the police are able to find the hostages, and the hostages are quite insistent on the fact that they are being held against their will.

    Not a lawyer and not familiar with the relevant laws but seems plausible to me.
     
  22. Maverick_nc

    Maverick_nc Contributor Contributor

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    If he can see through the criminal's eyes at any time, there seems little risk in attempting a personal rescue. I can imagine some jeopardy though. Perhaps during the rescue he DOES indeed end up touching too many people (the hostages perhaps) and thus loses his ability to see where the perpetrator is. Last he saw he was filling up the truck with gas and heading... somewhere...
     
  23. richardr1981

    richardr1981 New Member

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    In the UK anonymous calls can be made via Crimestoppers if that might help your plot? If the character gave enough info re the risk of a firearm etc. that should probably lead to armed response being deployed.

    I consider a more thrilling plot being a rogue cop who creates an intel report on someone he doesn't like very much and gets them swatted...
     

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