Legislation Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli co-sponsored with Assembly Democrats increases the penalties for making a false public alarm was signed into law by the governor today. Numerous false alarms have been called into law enforcement this year, resulting in the deployment of emergency responders, including the Special Weapons and Tactics Team (SWAT). “Swatting” is the common term used to describe the crime of calling in such false alarms.
“Emergency responders must and do respond to every potential threat to public safety,” said Ciattarelli, R-Somerset, Hunterdon, Mercer and Middlesex. “They arrive at the scene prepared for any situation. Swatting calls are occurring far too often and are a threat to public safety.
“Schools, malls and private residences are the targets of misguided people who think this is a harmless prank. Unnecessarily deploying emergency responders diverts critically important resources from responding to a real emergency,” he continued. “Time spent verifying a false alarm and the diversion of manpower is a real danger. Upgrading the penalties sends a message of the seriousness of the offense and that such hoaxes have serious consequences. Working in partnership with Assembly Democrats who served as fellow prime-sponsors of this bill, I am very pleased to see A-4375 signed into law. “
The new law (A-4375) upgrades swatting from a third degree to second degree crime; which carries a 5-10 year prison term, a fine of up to $150,000, or both. Convicted individuals may also be assessed a civil penalty of $2,000 or the actual costs incurred by law enforcement and emergency services that respond to the false alarm.
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