COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio Governor Mike DeWine on Monday signed a bill into law addressing hoax emergency calls within the state.
House Bill 462 creates a felony offense for “swatting,” which is when someone knowingly reports a false emergency that prompts a response by law enforcement, such as a kidnapping, school shooting or other violent crimes. Supporters of the bill say such situations cause unnecessary panic, disruption and expense, and can end with innocent people being arrested or harmed.
GOP Rep. Kevin Miller, of Newark, who sponsored the legislation, said such false alarms can “create highly charged incidents” that end in tragedy.
The legislation would make “swatting” a fourth-degree felony, and if a person is physically harmed during a resulting police response, it would be a second-degree felony. Those convicted could also be financially responsible for the costs of the law enforcement response.
The state public defender's office opposed the bill, arguing that there’s no need because penalties for false reporting of crimes already exist in Ohio law and the proposal would overcomplicate that.