|Posted:||March 13, 2015 12:07 PM|
|From:||Representative Jaret Gibbons|
|To:||All House members|
|Subject:||Increased Penalties for False Alarms to Public Safety Agencies|
|In the near future, I plan to introduce legislation to amend Title 18 (Crimes and Offenses) and Title 42 (Judiciary and Judicial Procedure) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes to increase penalties for making false reports to public safety agencies. Senator Hughes has proposed an identical measure in the Senate which has been introduced as SB 296.
Pranksters engage in the act of placing prank calls to 911, also referred to as “Swatting,” in an effort to draw a response from a SWAT team or emergency personnel. According to the FBI, these cases are often sophisticated schemes where the caller manipulates computer and phone equipment to make calls to 911 operators and uses “spoofing technology” to make it look like the calls are coming from the actual victims. Under my legislation, the Pennsylvania Commission on Sentencing would adopt sentencing enhancements where a false report to a public safety agency results in death, serious bodily injury, or bodily injury to an individual arising out of the response to the call.
In addition to these increased penalties, a court would be permitted to order the prankster to pay the state or local government unit’s costs of responding to the false report, including the use of police, fire, medical or other emergency response personnel, vehicles, and teams.
Taking the time to respond to fake emergency calls places the community in danger by causing a shortage in personnel available to handle actual emergencies. My legislation seeks to deter individuals who may consider engaging in these dangerous pranks. Please join me in co-sponsoring this important legislation.
Introduced as HB1617