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'Swatting' is now a felony in Ohio after DeWine signed bill into law

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Posted at 5:46 PM, Jan 03, 2023

COLUMBUS, Ohio — On Monday, Governor Mike DeWine signed into law a bill that declares "swatting" a felony in Ohio.

DeWine signed House Bill 462, which declares that anyone who reports false or misleading information to a law enforcement agency, emergency service provider or public safety answering point can be found guilty of a fourth-degree felony.

In Ohio, the minimum sentence for a person convicted of a fourth-degree felony is six months, but offenders can be sentenced to up to 18 months in prison. Those convicted can also be held liable for reimbursement of law enforcement resources used as a result of the false threat.

If the "swatting" incident results in a person being injured, the offense becomes a second-degree felony, which carries an additional prison sentence of two to five years in prison and a maximum of $15,000 in fines.

“All across the country, folks have been killed in these instances — law enforcement officers and civilians as well,” said bill sponsor state Rep. Kevin Miller in November.

The law was pushed through the Ohio House and Senate quickly; the House voted to advance it at the end of November and flew through the Senate not long after. DeWine signed it on Jan. 2, 2023.

A string of swatting incidents has disrupted schools across the Tri-State in 2022, particularly toward the end of the year.

As part of an active shooter hoax that affected schools across Ohio in September, Princeton High School in Sharonville dismissed students for the day after police received a 911 call just before 10 a.m. claiming there was an active shooter inside the building with 10 people injured. Police responded to the report, where they deemed the call was a hoax.

In November 2022, at least four different schools reported experiencing "swatting" calls.

On Nov. 9, a Cincinnati Public Schools spokesperson said both Gamble Montessori High School and Shroder High School had dealt with incidents.

On Nov. 28, a false report of an active shooter sent hundreds of Winton Woods students on lockdown. No charges were filed against the student in that case; police said because of the "very young age of the juvenile involved," the Hamilton County Prosecutor's Office declined to press charges.

A similar false report was made earlier in November 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.

In December, Mt. Airy Elementary entered a brief lockout after a student, who was arrested, made a "false threat of violence" against the school. The district said security protocols were put into place, but classes were not interrupted by the threat.

Just one week later, police in Fairfield said a threat made against Fairfield Freshman School originated outside of the state entirely; police announced there would be an increased police presence at the school for several days after the threat was made.

That same week, Reading Community City Schools closed out of an abundance of caution after a threat was made through a Snapchat shared among students.

"Everyone going to Reading school tomorrow, please I beg you don't go to school tomorrow," the Snapchat said. "There is a risk that one of the students will shoot up the school tomorrow just take precaution and DO NOT GO this is important."

Police said they identified the student responsible and arrested them.