A series of prank phone calls over the course of about a year culminated in Trenton firefighters responding to a call about a house on fire at 2 a.m. in the summer of 2011. The house belonged to Trenton Fire Chief Bruce Vick.
"They knew everything about me," Vick said. "They knew where I worked, who I was."
Vick said he received numerous calls to his house that came from an out-of-state number, which was likely used to disguise the caller's true phone number. The calls came over and over again for almost a year until they stopped suddenly.
"The harassment to me and my family was tremendous," Vick said.
Vick said most of the calls were made to his house, but at least one call was made to the Trenton Fire Department. The person who made the call falsely told firefighters that Vick's house was on fire. A fire truck was immediately sent to Vick's house.
Gov. Rick Snyder visited Trenton Fire Station 1 Monday to sign House Bill 5432, which outlaws "swatting," or the practice in which a person uses the Internet to report a serious crime or medical emergency in progress using "spoofing" technology, so that the report appears to be originating from another address.
Along with the incident that affected Vick, Snyder said there have been other incidences of "swatting" in other parts Michigan. He referred to an incident in Troy where a false call was made and all units were directed to a singular place last year.
"They, literally, called and because of the nature of the call everyone turned out for it, and what else was going on in the community when that was transpiring," Synder said. "That's not safe."
Vick said the bill hits close to home and was glad to see something being done about an issue that greatly affected he and his family.
"Sending my guys to my house at two o'clock in the morning on a false alarm could have injured them, could have injured my neighbors, could have injured my family, so I think it's a great bill," Vick said.