What is ‘swatting?’ Ohio lawmaker introduces bill that makes it a felony

Some state lawmakers want to make “swatting” a felony, our news partners at WCPO reported.

The term “swatting” is a prank 911 call that sends law enforcement to an address, which is essentially what happened at two area high schools last week.

>> Active shooter reports at area high schools deemed ‘hoax’; FBI investigating

On Friday, false reports of an active shooter at both Belmont High School in Dayton and Catholic Central High School in Springfield prompted a large police response.

“It’s just sickening to think that someone would do something like this,” State Representative Kevin Miller, R-Newark told WCPO.

Miller is a former Ohio State Highway Patrolman, and is one of the authors of HB462, which would make “swatting” a felony, according to WCPO. He says right now, there is nothing on the books that specifically addresses “swatting.”

>> Lockdown lifted at Central State University after report of armed suspect on campus

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, like what happened at Belmont High School and Catholic Central High School.

Multiple agencies, including the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office, responded to Belmont High School.

Miller says overtime costs on this one call add up, WCPO reported.

“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,” Miller told WCPO.

Miller spoke to WCPO about a similar incident he responded to while on patrol in 2014 where a shooting threat at Denison University resulted in the campus being on lockdown. Like the threats from last week, the 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, WCPO reported.

“Just think of the emotional and psychological stresses that were placed on these innocent individuals all over a hoax,” Miller told WCPO.