YORK COUNTY, Pa. (WHTM)– A reported shooting in York County on Monday turned out to be a swatting incident, when state police showed up at a home the people there were shocked to see them.
Swatting involves making a fake 911 emergency call to draw a response from law enforcement. Lawmakers want to increase the penalties for those who make these calls.
And when an emergency call comes in, law enforcement has to respond.
“That response could be a couple officers or that response could be a whole squad that has to respond to a given incident,” Senator Vincent Hughes (D) said.
But when it turns out to be a hoax, it draws resources from police and puts people in danger.
“When folks are involved in swatting, it does not help law enforcement and certainly doesn’t help out the broader community,’ Hughes said.
That’s why Hughes introduced legislation to make people who make swatting calls be responsible for covering the cost of the police response.
“There must be the penalty that’s commiserate with the total disregard for the time and the talent and efforts of our folks in law enforcement,” Hughes said. “It sends a message that we’re not going to tolerate this, that we need our law enforcement positions to respond to real crimes, not fake crimes.”
In March, State Police reported a series of swatting calls made to 911 centers about schools across the commonwealth involving active shooter situations or bomb threats.
“One of my local school districts was victim to one one of these calls and when went on lockdown mode,” State Rep. Marla Brown (R-Lawrence County) said.
Brown introduced legislation that would create felony criminal penalties for falsely reporting emergency threats to schools or other institutions.
“I’m asking that we make it a felony when someone calls in an emergency to a school,” Brown said. “Right now it’s a simple misdemeanor. I mean, it obviously depends on the circumstance but as far as I’m concerned, it’s not enough.”
Both bills are currently in committee.