VOLUSIA COUNTY, Fla. - Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood warns of the dangers of "swatting" in the aftermath of two recent incidents.
An 11-year-old girl appeared in court on Thursday for the first time, accused of texting 911, in great detail, about an imaginary, active kidnapping. The girl was sentenced to house arrest, and she must be with a parent or guardian at all times. The latest incident was the second one in less than two weeks. Last week, officers responded to a false 911 call that led them to a home in Deltona, Florida.
Sheriff Chitwood said he’s hopeful the strong stance against the crime will act as a deterrent to others. The 11-year-old said she carried out the hoax as a part of a YouTube trend. "I'm hoping that other youngsters out there that think this is funny, see this and say maybe, maybe this really isn't worth doing this," he said. In addition to the obvious physical dangers sending multiple agencies and resources can pose, Chitwood also highlighted the financial burden it places on different agencies.
The dollar amounts are still being tallied in the most recent case, though Chitwood said the plan is to make the child’s parents responsible. "I feel bad for the family because the parents are hard-working parents," he said. "At the same token… you’ve got to know what your kid's doing." In an effort to educate parents and guardians about the risk associated with the internet, the department has organized a series of community forums.
The dates and locations are as follows, with each event running from 6 to 7:30 pm:
- Monday, July 31, at First NSB Church, 200 Faulkner St., New Smyrna Beach
- Monday, Aug. 7, at Tomoka Christian Church, 1101 E. Plymouth Ave., DeLand;
- Wednesday, Aug. 9, at Deltona City Hall, 2345 Providence Blvd., Deltona;
- Monday, Aug. 28, at DeBary City Hall, 16 Colomba Road, DeBary;
- Tuesday, Aug. 29, at Mission San Jose of Saint Peter, 165 Emporia Road, Pierson