COLUMBUS — Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost applauded the recently-ended 134th General Assembly for approving legislation that prohibits swatting – the practice of reporting a fraudulent crime or emergency with the intent of provoking an emergency response by law enforcement, typically at the residence of another.
“These prank calls are designed to do one thing – cause a panic,” Yost said. “By creating a standalone offense specific to this activity, House Bill 462 sends a strong message to anyone who seeks to distract law enforcement from their already-challenging jobs.”
Yost also praised the members of the legislature who were instrumental in advancing this legislation. “Special thanks to Rep. Kevin Miller and former Rep. Rick Carfagna for their sponsorship of this legislation in the House, and also to Sen. Andrew Benner for his leadership on this topic in the Senate,” Yost said.
According to the Ohio School Safety Center, part of Ohio Homeland Security, reports of false threats of violence at schools have more than doubled during the past year. In September alone, several schools across the state were “swatted” on the same morning, resulting in the activation of emergency services.
HB 462 makes swatting a fourth-degree felony, a crime that can be enhanced to a second-degree felony if serious bodily harm occurs as a result of the call.
“There will finally be appropriate penalties and sanctions for those who choose to engage in this extremely dangerous behavior,” said Rep. Miller (R-Newark). “This makes a clear statement that swatting will not be tolerated in Ohio.”
Former Rep. Carfagna (R-Genoa Township) echoed his co-sponsors sentiments. “I’m proud that the legislature recognized the urgency to deal with these situations that jeopardize not only innocent Ohioans but also law enforcement,” said Carfagna. “I commend Attorney General Dave Yost and State Rep. Kevin Miller for shepherding this bill through the final days of session to make sure we put a stop to these dangerous incidents.”
Sen. Brenner (R-Delaware) also emphasized the need to hold swatters accountable.
“This dangerous practice has become increasingly commonplace, with several instances happening in my district over the past few years,” Brenner said. “By designating a specific offense for swatting with serious penalties, Ohioans and emergency responders will be safer. I thank Attorney General Yost for his efforts in helping us pass this important legislation.”
HB 462 awaits Gov. Mike DeWine’s signature.