GOSHEN – Orange County Executive Steven Neuhaus has added his voice to the effort to catch those who are “swatting,”” or calling in false bomb or shooting threats to Middletown city schools by asking Federal Communications Chairman Tom Wheeler to grant the district a limited waiver of a Federal Communications Commission regulation that restricts telecommunications carriers from transmitting calling party numbers when requested by a calling party.
The move is aimed at combating a wave of anonymous “swatting” calls, or phone threats targeting schools. Fourteen calls have been received. Seven of these incidents have taken place at Middletown’s Maple Hill Elementary school, which has resulted in a seven percent loss of instructional time for these children this school year. Another threat was phoned in this past Friday.
“It’s having such a negative impact, not only on law enforcement, who when they get the call, they go to the scene as if it were a real active shooter or whatever it is coming in as, but it is also having a major impact on the teachers, and of course, the students and it has go to stop, whoever is doing it, whether they think it is a joke or doing some probing to see what our securities are, it is really having a negative impact through the spectrum of the people that area involved,” Neuhaus said.
The county exec noted that Middletown has spent $100,000 trying to mitigate these calls.
“Granting Middletown the waiver would help authorities track and arrest the perpetrators of these alarming calls, which have caused undue stress and concern to the Middletown community,” Neuhaus wrote. “I urge you again to consider the Enlarged City School District of Middletown’s request.”