State Senator Ted W. Lieu, who represents Santa Monica, the Westside, and the South Bay, announced Monday that the Assembly had approved his bill mandating full restitution to taxpayers for those convicted of falsely reporting emergencies on 911, which is commonly known as “swatting.”
Senate Bill 333 now returns to the Senate for concurrence and, if approved, would then go to Gov. Jerry Brown, who can sign, veto or allow the measure to become law without his signature.
“Swatting drains vital resources from law enforcement and puts officers and citizens in dangerous situations,” Lieu said. “To those who engage in this dangerous practice, be aware this is not a game and you will be held responsible for all associated costs.”
Sponsored by the Los Angeles County Sherriff’s Department, Lieu’s measure comes after numerous false reports of threats or invaders in the homes of numerous California residents.
The Los Angeles Police Department, LA County Sheriff’s Department, Beverly Hills Police Department, and other agencies have spent thousands of dollars and put their officers in dangerous situations as a result of swatting incidents.
Under Lieu’s bill, which would apply to any cases of false 911 reports, a person convicted of making a false emergency report would be held liable for all costs associated with the response by law enforcement.
Estimates range from several thousand to over $10,000 per episode.
Police and sheriffs continue to respond immediately, in large numbers and with force if needed, to reports of violent crime at the homes of residents because it’s hard to know what is real and what is “swatting,” which refers to a prank call reporting a violent crime that results in a tactical police response that may include a SWAT team.
Lieu currently represents nearly 1.3 million people. In addition to Santa Monica, he also represents constituents in Beverly Hills, Carson, El Segundo, Hermosa Beach, Lomita, Manhattan Beach, Palos Verdes Estates, Rancho Palos Verdes, Redondo Beach, Rolling Hills, Rolling Hills Estates, Torrance, West Hollywood, and portions of Hollywood.