COLUMBUS, Ohio (WJW) – Several Ohio lawmakers are pushing for tougher laws when it comes to swatting calls.
Senate Bill 292 would make swatting calls a third-degree felony, or a first-degree felony if someone is seriously hurt as a result of the prank.
Swatting calls are when someone intentionally reports a false violent threat as a prank.
Several police agencies across the state have dealt with swatting calls over the past few years.
In November 2018 , close to 150 law enforcement officers responded to Cleveland Clinic Medina Hospital after receiving calls that a suspect was holding hostages. It was later determined to be a hoax.
“We can’t afford to send our first responders on wild goose chases for no reason,” said State Sen. Kenny Yuko. “Anytime you are taking away first responders from doing their job for some ridiculous reason like this, you are putting someone’s life at risk.”
The bill would also allow emergency response officials to bill someone for what it cost their agency to respond to the fake call.
“I am certainly hopeful that this will be a deterrent to that type of nefarious activity,” said State Sen. Kristina Roegner.
The senate bill is being sponsored by State Sen. Andrew Brenner, of Delaware County. A similar bill is being introduced in the house.
“I will be watching closely to find out the views of law enforcement and civil liberty organizations and try to balance,” said State Rep. Casey Weinstein. “We want to discourage false reporting. I think our first responders are already taxed enough in terms of their time and the strain on their resources. “
Some lawmakers said they hope to vote on the bill soon.