SPRINGFIELD – Governor Bruce Rauner signed a new initiative into law Tuesday giving courts the discretion to require offenders convicted of making a prank 911 call or other false emergency alert to police to reimburse the public for the costs of responding to the report, a trend known as “swatting”. The legislation, House Bill 3988, was introduced and sponsored by State Rep. John Anthony (R-Morris).
Swatting is the act of tricking an emergency service into dispatching an emergency response based on the false report of an ongoing critical incident; such as an armed robbery, fire, or assault, for example. Prank 911 calls and false reports to police cost emergency response agencies throughout Illinois both in terms of money and, more importantly, in time. Examples that have taken place include the deployment of bomb squads, SWAT units and other police units and the evacuations of schools and businesses based on prank calls.
“In my past experience as a county sheriff’s deputy, I personally responded to what turned out to be a prank call,” Rep. Anthony said. “Every single time emergency response services are diverted to a swatting call, those are precious minutes and resources that aren’t sent to legitimate calls where people’s lives are in jeopardy.”