Ortiz Seeks to Penalize Persons Making Fake Emergency Responder Calls

February 20, 2018

Assistant Speaker Felix W. Ortiz (D-Kings) has introduced legislation (A.9798) to amend the penal law by increasing penalties for falsely reporting a “swatting incident” to law enforcement authorities by up to a prison term of five to ten years, a fine of up to $150,000, or both.

“Swatting” is a harassment tactic used by people to mislead an emergency services dispatcher into sending a police or emergency service response team to an alleged crime or disaster scene. This is often triggered by falsely reporting a serious emergency such as a bomb threat, murder, hostage situation, or mass shooting.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) estimates that 400 swatting attacks occur each year (based on local law enforcement monthly calls, interviews of individuals arrested, and a review of social media and gaming perpetrators bragging about their acts).

“We must take an aggressive approach to stop false reporting from happening. Swatting calls unnecessarily and irresponsibly waste taxpayer dollars,” said Ortiz.

“These heinous acts not only jeopardize innocent lives, but our federal, state and local law enforcement emergency responders who must be ready to answer real emergency calls,” Ortiz added.