COMMENTARY — Penalties for those who SWAT police need to be swift & severe, regardless of perp’s age

Last week, someone ­— it’s not clear who it is, yet, but it will be soon— called the Harrison Police Department and told them officers needed to rush to Washington Middle School because there was an active shooter there.

That’s exactly what police did, all while sending officers to each and every school in town to help keep everyone calm and orderly during what might otherwise have been a very taxing time for all.

Yet when all was said and done, thanks be to God, there was no shooting. No shooter. No one, thus, and fortunately, was hurt.

And even though none of the aforementioned happened, SWATTING incidents like this one could have led to utter disaster. And have in the past.

What if a police officer entered the school and saw someone who appeared to be a shooter? What if someone took the law into their own hands with knowledge of a so-called active shooter? Think about this for a moment along with any number of potential scenarios where a fake call to police about a shooter could possibly go awry.

There have been many such instances across the country over the years, whether it’s directed at schools, gamers looking to get an advantage … whatever. These incidents aren’t just disgusting, they could be and have been deadly.

We are fortunate none of our students, teachers or staffers were hurt. But what if one or more had been? What if a life was taken? And it all started with a prank?

We’ve seen many cases where SWATTERS are young people — and it wouldn’t be shocking if such was the case at WMS last week. And, when the cases involve minors, the cases are often heard in juvenile courtrooms.

We believe regardless of the age of SWATTERS, the consequences must be significantly stronger than a slap on the wrist. To treat these cases lightly — and they often are — is a recipe for disaster, one that may one day lead to carnage. If that day ever comes, it would be beyond tragic. Creating stricter punishment, therefore, isn’t just a “nice thought” — it must become a reality before it’s just too late to matter.

Learn more about the writer ...

Kevin A. Canessa Jr. is the editor of and broadcaster at The Observer, a place where he has served on and off since 2006. He is responsible for the editorial content of the newspaper and website, the production of the e-Newspaper, writing several stories per week (including the weekly editorial), conducting live broadcasts on Facebook Live, including a weekly recap of the news — and much more behind the scenes. Between 2006 and 2008, he introduced the newspaper to its first-ever blog — which included podcasts, audio and video. Originally from Jersey City, Kevin lived in Kearny until 2004, lived in Port St. Lucie. Florida, for four years until February 2016 and in March of that year, he moved back to West Hudson to return to The Observer full time. Click Here to send Kevin an email.