Bill would make ‘swatting’ a felony crime

wwny Bill would make ‘swatting’ a felony crime

WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWNY) - A new state bill would make calling in a phony emergency to get armed police to respond a more serious crime.

A Watertown family, who fell victim to ‘swatting,’ is pleased.

Twice this past summer, police responded to a Boyd Street home with long guns drawn, startling the family that lives here.

They were cases of what's called 'swatting' when someone calls in a fake emergency to draw armed police officers to a certain location.

Police responded to the Boyd Street home with guns drawn twice, but there were many more swatting calls regarding the house and the family who lives there.

"The police responded 23 times to the calls and then the fire department 3 times," said April Secor, who lives there. "We went through a month and a half of hell."

A new bill introduced by state Assemblyman Mark Walczyk and Senator Patty Ritchie aims to combat incidents like that. The bill would make swatting, which is now a misdemeanor, a minor crime, a felony.

Detective Lieutenant Joe Donoghue with the Watertown Police Department reached out to the state representatives following this summer's swatting incidents. He says the bill is a step in the right direction.

"It should be brought up to a felony level. It's serious when you are endangering the public by making these phone calls," he said.

Felonies carry higher penalties and officials hope making swatting a more serious offense would make people think twice before making a call.

Secor says she's very happy about the proposed legislation.

"I'm really happy that they can really be in trouble for it now," she said.

No one was ever charged in connection to the Boyd Street swatting incidents. The calls took police officers away from their normal duties. That waste of time and resources is another reason many believe swatting should be a felony.

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