OLYMPIA – On Wednesday, the Washington State House of Representatives passed a bill to increase punishments for false reporting of emergencies. Known as swatting, this practice sends heavily armed law enforcement to the homes of innocent people under the belief that there is a life-threatening situation.
House Bill 2326 establishes different levels of increased punishments based on the intent and outcome of the false report. At the most severe level, false reporting that results in death can be a class B felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison.
In a recent case that received national coverage, a fatal swatting encounter left one man dead after an online gaming bet.
The bill was introduced earlier this session by Rep. Javier Valdez (D-Seattle).
“The rise in swatting has disproportionately targeted communities of color, the LGBTQ community, and religious communities,” said Valdez. “Swatting has caused needless trauma and death, which becomes even more tragic when done as a reckless prank or act of hate.”
“Passing this bill into law will restore trust between law enforcement and communities at a time when tensions are already high around police violence.”
After passing 97-0 in the House, the bill now goes to the Senate for consideration.