Proposed legislation could make swatting punishable with up to 7 years in prison
In March and April, more than 50 school districts in New York received swatting calls. One central New York lawmaker wants to increase the penalty for making hoax calls of active shooter threats at schools.
Central New York State Sen. John Mannion (D-Syracuse) introduced legislation which would make swatting a class D felony — punishable up to 7 years in prison. Current law makes swatting a class E felony offense.
"We felt that it was necessary," Mannion said. "Falsely reporting an incident is already a crime, but falsely reporting an incident with a deadly weapon at a school facility are the two pieces that we wanted to make sure were clear and were added to state law."
Mannion, a former educator, says he understands how traumatic practicing a lockdown drill can be for students and staff — saying 25 years ago people weren't even thinking about these things.
"Learning occurs all the time," Mannion said. "We're humans, we learn. That association between what [students and staff are] seeing on TV and going to school every day with the fear that it could happen and then that just being validated even by a false incident is something that is impactful on everybody's mental health."
"It is to function as a deterrent so people don't do it," Mannion continued. "It's a serious crime and it's really for the well-being, even though there's no actual threat, it's for the well-being of kids."