Ohio's governor signed a new law this week that makes "swatting" a felony offense in the state.
Frequently tied to the online gaming community, swatting is when a person—possibly an irate gamer or someone looking to intimidate an elected official—calls 9-1-1 to falsely accuse a victim of a crime that initiates a SWAT response. In many cases, the victims and the perpetrators don’t even live in the same geographic areas.
During a flurry of signings Monday, Gov. Mike DeWine gave the final OK to House Bill 462, which raised reporting false information to a law enforcement or public safety agency answering point to a fourth-degree felony, WCPO-TV reports. Individuals convicted of a fourth-degree felony face a minimum sentence of six months in prison and can be sentenced to up to 18 months, along with being liable for reimbursements to the agencies.
A swatting offense is elevated to a second-degree felony if anyone is injured in the incident. If convicted, a person can face an additional two to five years in prison, as well as $15,000 in fines.
After a noticeable drop in cases around the country, swatting incidents saw an increase at the end of last year. Colleges, high schools and other educational institutions in Ohio, Georgia, Alabama and other states were targeted with 9-1-1 calls and bomb threats.