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House OK’s bill to increase penalties for ‘swatting’

Making a fictitious emergency call that a serious crime is underway is a gross misdemeanor in Minnesota.

House Minority Leader Lisa Demuth (R-Cold Spring) wants to make it a felony when a swatting call sends first responders to the home of an elected official, judge, prosecuting attorney, employee of a correctional facility or a peace officer.

The House passed the bill she sponsors, HF3757, early Friday. Following a 127-0 vote, it now goes to the Senate.

“We know that swatting is something that can lead to deadly results,” Demuth told the House Public Safety Finance and Policy Committee April 4.

Intentionally luring first responders to a false emergency endangers the safety of more than just the first responders, Demuth said. It puts anyone in that home at risk, plus bystanders who could be struck by emergency vehicles rushing to the scene.

Demuth added swatting that falsely reports crimes such as an imminent bombing or a hostage situation can also divert a significant number of first responders away from what could be a true emergency incident.


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