Ohio lawmaker introduces bill that makes 'swatting' a felony

Eight Ohio schools were 'swatted' Friday, including Princeton High School, where a caller told 911 an active shooter was inside the school.
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Posted at 5:25 AM, Sep 27, 2022
and last updated 2022-09-27 07:48:25-04

COLUMBUS, Ohio — The term "swatting" is a prank 911 call that deploys the SWAT team. It's essentially what happened Friday at Princeton High School in Sharonville, and multiple other schools across the country.

Now, some state lawmakers want to make "swatting" a felony. WCPO found out that if this bill becomes a law, those convicted could face prison time, fines and restitution worth thousands of dollars.

These 911 calls put all hands on deck. Whether it's Catholic Central High School in Springfield, or another 911 call about an active shooter inside of Princeton High School, all of them turned out to be false alarms.

"It's just sickening to think that someone would do something like this," said State Representative Kevin Miller, R-Newark.

Miller is a former Ohio State Highway Patrolman, and is one of the authors of HB462, which would make "swatting" a felony. He says right now, there is nothing on the books that specifically addresses "swatting." Under the bill, if someone is convicted, the person could face prison time, as well as fines and restitution. The bill allows law enforcement and emergency response agencies to get reimbursed for these false alarms. Take for instance what happened Friday at Princeton High School. There were about 100 members of law enforcement from multiple agencies across the state. Miller says, overtime costs on this one call add up.

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"I was very familiar with what swatting was and all of the things that it entails, the waste of resources and the dangerous behavior associated with it," said Miller.

Miller spoke to WCPO about a similar incident he responded to while on patrol in 2014. This was a shooting threat at Denison University, which resulted in the campus being on lockdown. Like the threats from last week, this threat turned out to be false.

With this legislation, Miller hopes it will send a strong message that this will not be tolerated, and that the right people are held accountable.

"Just think of the emotional and psychological stresses that were placed on these innocent individuals all over a hoax," said Miller.

Princeton High School among multiple Ohio schools targeted by national active shooter hoax
Sharonville PD: Active shooter report at Princeton High School a hoax
'This will be very hard to stop': Expert says increase in technology could lead to more swatting calls