Reckless pranksters who take great pleasure in getting law enforcement to respond "code three" to a fabricated emergency will face a heftier penalty if Assembly Bill 47 becomes law. The state Assembly unanimously approved AB 47 on Tuesday, May 28.
AB 47 by Assemblyman Mike Gatto (D-Los Angeles) imposes a fine of up to $2,000 and a year in jail for people who call 911 to report an emergency that does not exist.
"When someone calls 911 with a fake emergency, it's called swatting, particularly if a SWAT team is called out," said Alan Barcelona. Barcelona is president of the California Statewide Law Enforcement Association (CSLEA), which represents public safety dispatchers with the California Highway Patrol (CHP) and CalFire communications operators. "When our dispatchers devote time to a hoax, that's precious time they are not devoting to real emergencies and real life-threatening events."
It is not only a drain on emergency response resources, "swatting" is dangerous for the officers who respond and the homeowners who are suddenly surprised by officers rushing in with guns drawn.
Celebrities in Los Angeles County are often the victims of "swatting." Miley Cyrus, Khloe Kardashian, Justin Timberlake, Rihanna, Tom Cruise, Ashton Kutcher have all been victims of swatting incidents.
"CSLEA supports AB47 because it attempts to put a stop to this growing trend of tying up dispatchers who answer our cries for emergency help," said Barcelona. "Delaying a dispatcher and causing first responders to race to an emergency that doesn't exist just for the pure thrill of it puts lives in danger and causes additional, unnecessary stress to public safety professionals who are already under enough stress as it is."
AB47 exempts 911 calls made in good faith.