COLUMBUS, Ohio – The Ohio General Assembly has passed House Bill 462, aimed at cracking down on the dangerous practice of “swatting”. Swatting refers to the act of reporting a false crime or emergency with the intention of eliciting a response from law enforcement. This dangerous practice has become increasingly common in recent years, causing panic and putting both innocent individuals and law enforcement officers at risk.
In response to this issue, Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost has applauded the passage of HB 462, which makes swatting a fourth-degree felony in the state. If the swatting results in serious bodily harm, the crime can be upgraded to a second-degree felony.
“These prank calls are designed to do one thing – cause a panic,” Yost said. “By creating a standalone offense specific to this activity, House Bill 462 sends a strong message to anyone who seeks to distract law enforcement from their already-challenging jobs.”
Yost also thanked Rep. Kevin Miller, former Rep. Rick Carfagna, and Sen. Andrew Benner for their sponsorship and leadership on the issue. Benner emphasized the importance of holding swatters accountable, stating: “By designating a specific offense for swatting with serious penalties, Ohioans and emergency responders will be safer. I thank Attorney General Yost for his efforts in helping us pass this important legislation.”
Delaware County Sheriff Russell Martin also expressed his support for the bill, stating: “In the last two years, we’ve experienced five calls that were determined to be ‘swatting’ in Delaware County alone. The nature of these calls is not a prank, nor is it the least bit amusing. The resources requested and the risks incurred when anyone makes these fake calls is not only annoying, but very dangerous for all those involved. I support the Ohio General Assembly’s effort to make this offense a serious criminal act.”
The Ohio School Safety Center, a division of Ohio Homeland Security, reported that false threats of violence at schools have more than doubled in the past year. In September alone, several schools across the state were targeted by swatting incidents on the same morning, leading to the activation of emergency services.
HB 462 now awaits the signature of Governor Mike DeWine. The legislation is a strong step towards holding swatters accountable for their dangerous actions and ensuring the safety of Ohioans and emergency responders.