OLYMPIA – Today, the Governor signed a bill 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 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.
“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.”
House Bill 2632 passed unanimously in both the House and Senate before arriving at Governor Inslee’s desk. The new law takes effect in June this year.