Assemblyman Mike Gatto’s (D-Silver Lake) bill to up the penalties for abusing the 911 system – a crime known as “swatting” – passed the State Assembly in a unanimous vote Tuesday.
The bill, AB 47, passed in a 76-0 vote. It would increase the penalties for swatting -- so named because it involves making anonymous calls to police about non-existent crime situations, prompting the dispatching of special weapons and tactics, or SWAT, officers.
If the measure goes into effect, anyone convicted of making a swatting call would be subject to a $2,000 fine and a year in jail, with significantly increased penalties if the call results in bodily harm.
The bill stipulates that any swatting call that results in a death can be considered manslaughter.
According to Gatto’s office, there have been more than a dozen such calls made in the last five months, and law enforcement officials fear that the tense situations created by these criminal calls have the potential to turn deadly.
“Police fear that this potential deadly prank will become more prevalent if we do not do something to elevate swatting to a serious crime,” Gatto said in a statement. “This common-sense legislation will discourage this dangerous activity.”
-- Daniel Siegal, firstname.lastname@example.org