SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Several swatting incidents targeted schools throughout western Massachusetts in recent days.

Swatting is a type of criminal tactic to intentionally cause fear and deceive emergency services. 22News spoke to local law enforcement about the specifics of this troubling trend. Recent swatting threats have terrorized local schools and communities. These are incidents that involve a false claim with very real consequences.

“It’s a phone call to a 911 system to illicit some type of emergency response. The name swatting originates from trying to get a SWAT team, a lot of officers out to a certain location,” said Springfield Police Spokesperson Ryan Walsh.

The chaos caused by these swatting incidents create a large police presence, along with heavy media attention… and that’s just what these swatters are looking for.

One of the local schools targeted in swatting attacks this week was Central High School in Springfield. School resource officers were on duty when the threat was made and were quickly able to deem it as not credible. This indicates to police that the swatter is likely not local.

“It’s usually using some kind of internet device to spoof a phone number and the call really could be coming from anywhere in the world,” said Walsh.

22News spoke to a local doctor about the impact swatting threats can have on a person’s mental health.

Dr. Negar Beheshti, Chief Medical Officer at MiraVista told 22News, “We’ve seen it over and over again unfortunately. Again it’s the same kind of response, whether it is ‘real’ or not, you’re going to get varied stress responses.”

Even if an incident is suspected to be a swatting attack, police treat every threat as credible to ensure safety. All the local schools that received threats Tuesday were determined to be swatting attacks.

According to local police, it’s common for hoaxes to increase following real tragic events, like the Nashville school shooting.