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Local and state legislators are considering legislation that would crack down on people who falsely report emergencies, which is known as “swatting”.
The legislation follows numerous incidents of “swatting” at the homes of celebrities such as Justin Bieber, Justin Timberlake, Selena Gomez and Rhianna. Police on Monday responded to the Hollywood Hills residence of actor and comedian Russell Brand, where an unknown caller reported that armed intruders had forced their way inside. Although the incidents turn out to be false, police dedicate a significant amount of resources to investigating the reports. The term “swatting” comes from the fact that the false claims often prompt deployment of police SWAT teams.
State Senator Ted Lieu (D-Los Angeles) has authored Senate Bill 333, which would make individuals found to be responsible for making the false reports liable for the cost of the law enforcement response, which is generally several thousand dollars. Los Angeles City Councilman Paul Koretz, 5th District, has authored a similar bill that would make the callers liable for the costs. Additionally, State Assemblyman Mike Gatto (D-Los Angeles) is advancing legislation that would increase penalties for people convicted of “swatting” to up to one year in jail and a $10,000 fine.
The Los Angeles Police Department, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, Beverly Hills Police Department, and many other agencies are supporting the measures.
Koretz’s bill, which is currently being considered by the council’s Public Safety Committee, calls for the city attorney to report back in 30 days on the viability of a citywide ordinance. The bills by Lieu and Gatto are also currently being considered in legislative committees.
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