Oklahoma man held at gunpoint by police, handcuffed after false 911 call

Given that 911 calls are recorded and the phone number is logged, I would expect that a motivated detective to quickly ID a suspect.

Does said police department have any obligation to ID, investigate and detain / arrest the false caller?

  • 3
    Phone numbers are trivial to spoof. Which is how illegal telemarketers and scammers get away with it. You could call anyone from the number belonging to the phone sitting on the President's desk in the Oval Office and the system would just believe you and tell the call recipient that that number was calling them. Of course, you can do the same with e-mail, but at least there we've added side-channels for verifying that the e-mail originated at a server authorized to send e-mail from that domain that can be used to flag likely spam.
    – reirab
    Commented Jun 24, 2021 at 22:40
  • 5
    @reirab, 911 generally uses the hard-to-spoof ANI phone number (the one the phone company uses for billing) rather than the easy-to-spoof CID number.
    – Mark
    Commented Jun 25, 2021 at 3:08

1 Answer 1


Does said police department have any obligation to ID, investigate and detain / arrest the false caller?

No. See Castle Rock v. Gonzales, 545 US 748 (2005).

Usually, police do investigate, but that is a matter of department policy and political expectations, not a legal obligation to do so.

  • 15
    The "man held at gunpoint" was the victim of a likely malicious false 911 call. Police followed the call and put an innocent man in a very unpleasant situation. The "man held at gunpoint" is the one asking the police to find the false caller. In that kind of situation, where a malicious call didn't just waste police time but put someone in danger, I'd hope that the police would investigate.
    – gnasher729
    Commented Jun 24, 2021 at 13:48
  • 17
    There is a term for this crime: Swatting. While that typically implies getting a SWAT team sent to someone's house, it still applies if it's just regular police officers and not necessarily at a residence. The caller was attempting to cause harm to the victim or even get him killed by police, which is a serious crime. Whether the police are required to investigate is up for debate, but there should be little question that the 911 caller in this case absolutely committed a crime. Commented Jun 24, 2021 at 16:01
  • 4
    @DarrelHoffman it might be better to review police procedure and how it enables Swatting to be viable.
    – jcm
    Commented Jun 25, 2021 at 8:05
  • 1
    @DarrelHoffman Since there is an established term for that practice, I assume it is somewhat common, and also somewhat effective. If my deduction is correct, someone in charge in the USA should ask themselves why it is so easy to use the police as an illegal weapon. I'm not saying here in Italy police doesn't make mistakes or that there are not fake calls to 112 (our 911) or even false accusations toward innocent people. However I've never heard that someone has succeeded in making the police kill or hurt severely an innocent by simply calling the cops and "pointing them at the target". Commented Jun 25, 2021 at 15:06
  • 1
    @LorenzoDonati--Codidact.com Not sure how common and/or effective it is - the article I linked lists only 2 cases which actually led to injury or death. I assume the usual result is just some property damage (kicked in door or broken windows) and emotional trauma. It is still serious, and should be severely punished even if nobody gets hurt, and many police jurisdictions are indeed taking measures to curtail it, but I don't believe it's actually all that widespread. Commented Jun 25, 2021 at 15:31

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