Fake 911 calls cause tense, risky armed police standoffs

Like a scene out of a movie, 22-year old Hannah Chiasson watched as heavily-armed police officers in black vests swarmed her suburban Indianapolis home, pointing "big guns" at her, her father and a friend. "Why are you pointing guns at me?" she recalls asking the cops.

The answer: a fake 911 call warning of a situation so extreme police felt compelled to respond in force. It's a prank, a dangerous one, more commonly targeting celebrities in Los Angeles but that is becoming more common elsewhere. It happened twice last week in central Indiana, according to a special report in The Indianapolis Star documenting the 911 calls, the police response and showing in harrowing detail how the prank known as "swatting" manufactures a tense situation with potentially fatal consequences.

The Star reported that police say "they don't have the luxury of judging the veracity of a call in an emergency situation" because they're trained to treat every call as real.

"You don't want to let your guard down or be less tactical in a situation where you have to be," Carmel police Lt. Joe Bickel said.

700 taxpayer-backed home repair awards may have been wasted

An investigation by WWL-TV in New Orleans found landlords receiving government rental-home repair loans and abandoned their properties.

The station's investigative team reports that "about 700 of the 4,400 properties that received forgivable, no-interest incentive loans in the state's Road Home Small Rental program have failed to turn in documents certifying that they are charging required rents to tenants making certain lower incomes."

WWL found some of the "landlords have not even rebuilt or repaired their properties.

A lost dog and other tales of costly overtime at New Jersey taxpayers' expense

In Toms River, N.J., the police department racked up overtime charges for a group of police officers hunting for a missing police dog, Jack, who ran off during a training exercise.

"You want overtime to look for your own dog that you lost?" Ocean County Sheriff Michael G. Mastronardy recalled his reaction. The search for the scent-tracking dog, named Jack, is among the many examples overtime costs that Ocean County government pays and the Asbury Park Press reported.

The newspaper tallied almost $7 million in Ocean County government overtime, including highlighting several county employees who racked up six-figure overtime bills in 2013. Law enforcement officers accounted for two-thirds of the OT bill.

Not all Indian tribes get help they need from Wisconsin casinos

Wisconsin's foray into American Indian gaming has made a tremendous difference for some tribes, but the impact has been less noticeable for others, according to a special report by Gannett's Wisconson investigative team.

The report finds that the "Menominee and other tribes that erected casinos along back roads and sparsely populated two-lane state highways have struggled to share in the riches."

The newspaper says: "consequently, their healthcare facilities lag behind. Tribal members rarely, if ever, receive sizable annual checks from gaming revenue (see what each tribe member gets in this graphic). Unemployment is higher than both the state average and other tribes' rates."

"People think because we got a casino we got everything," said Tom Maulson, chairman of the Lac du Flambeau Band of Lake Superior Chippewa. "And that's not true."


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