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Bill to make 'swatting' a felony in Ohio moves forward

WCPO 9 Cincinnati
WCPO 9 Cincinnati
 2022-11-30
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The Ohio House voted Tuesday to advance a bill that would make “swatting” a felony in Ohio. “Swatting” is when someone makes a false report of a serious threat.

“All across the country, folks have been killed in these instances — law enforcement officers and civilians as well,” said state Rep. Kevin Miller, R-Newark, who sponsored House Bill 462 .

If the bill becomes a law, violators could face prison time and potentially thousands of dollars in restitution.

“Typically, there's a huge law enforcement response,” he said. “That can involve bringing additional officers out early, holding officers out after their shift, so there's a cost to the public.”

Miller said the bill sets the tone that swatting is not acceptable in Ohio.

Opponents argue the bill is not necessary.

“The behavior this bill is meant to address is already illegal and more often than not is already a felony,” said Niki Clum with the Ohio Public Defender's Office in her testimony opposing the bill. “Adding additional overlapping charges just leads to a confusing criminal code, mistakes in trial, and a coercive stacking of charges.”

To become a law, the bill would also need to pass in Ohio’s Senate and be signed by the governor. If the bill doesn’t make it through those steps before the end of the session, Rep. Miller plans to reintroduce it next year.

A string of swatting incidents has disrupted schools across the Tri-State this year. On Monday, a false report of an active shooter sent hundreds of Winton Woods students on lockdown .

A similar false report was made earlier this month at Pleasant Run Middle School. Brandi Price received a text from her son when the school went on lockdown.

“I will never, ever forget that text ever,” she said. “He's like, ‘Someone says that it’s someone in a school with a gun.”

Kids can be heard laughing in the background of the 911 call that led to the lockdown. A young girl now faces charges for it.

“They don't realize how it's impacting the students, the teachers, their parents,” Price said.

Swatting is already a felony in Kentucky after a new law was signed into effect earlier this year.

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Comments / 40

Allie
11-30

There are already laws on the books concerning this so perhaps law enforcement and the judicial system enforcement the the laws in place.

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Tony Dunlap
11-30

Personally, I think ANY false report to police should be a felony.

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EstablishedIn1970
12-01

Ummm...correct me if I'm wrong...but isn't "swatting" really called "filing a false report"? This revamping of laws that already exist seems redundant to me. Just actually enforce the laws that are already in place and perhaps people would fear repercussions and not do such asinine things, instead of a simple slap on the wrist, catch and release democratic policies.

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2

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