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Legislation Increasing Penalties For Swatting Advances

Police tactical team gathered round a house
Adobe Stock
Police tactical or swat team gathered round the door of a house with drawn weapons and protective clothing simulating an arrest or hostage stand-off situation

Rep. Robert Brannan III (R-Lake City) wants to increase the penalties for making false crime reports. The bill would make it a felony for a person to report a fake crime that results in injury, property damage, or substantial costs to responding agencies.

Swatting costs the responding agencies money, and it can also cause innocent people to be hurt or even killed. In the past four months, there have been more than 25 swatting calls in the Tampa Bay area alone. Brannan described one.

"The Clearwater police department on October 27, 2020, received a call from a subject stating he had two female hostages and had placed pot bombs on the street and had demanded 10,000 dollars and a pizza in exchange for the hostages. The caller threatened a shootout with police," said Brennan. "When officers responded to the address the victim was interviewed and stated she plays the game Among Us, and had been warned by another user that he was going to swat her."

In 2019 a person in Los Angeles was sentenced to 20 years in prison for a swatting call that resulted in the death of an innocent man. The bill passed its first stop with unanimous support.