OLYMPIA – On Tuesday, the Washington State Senate unanimously approved legislation to increase punishments for false emergency reporting. 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.
The proposal, House Bill 2632, was originally sponsored by Rep. Javier Valdez (D-Seattle) in the House. It identifies the different outcomes and intents of a false report, establishing corresponding punishments depending on the seriousness of the offense. This could result in a class B felony and 10 years in prison if a swatting call directly leads to someone’s death.
Recently, Seattle prosecutors charged four members of a neo-Nazi group, including two Washingtonians, with threatening and harassing journalists. One member was charged with using swatting calls to target an investigative journalist.
Before reaching the Senate, House Bill 2632 had also passed unanimously in the House. It will go to the Governor’s desk to be signed into law after returning to the House for concurrence.