State Rep. John Reilly this week introduced a plan to crack down on “swatting” – a practice where people make false reports alleging serious crimes in an attempt to get a SWAT team deployed to a specific location.
Reilly, of Oakland Township, said swatting is an increasingly common crime that must be taken seriously. Incidents of swatting in Michigan have occurred in Grand Blanc, Lowell, Chesterfield, Ionia, Bath Township, and one family in Commerce Township has been swatted more than once.
“Swatting has three groups of victims: the innocent people having police sent to their homes expecting an active shooter, the police departments whose resources are needlessly diverted, and the public who must live with the risks,” Reilly said. “Some instances of swatting have even resulted in the deaths of innocent citizens.”
In 2017, a terrible tragedy occurred in Kansas after a swatting call was made to police. The caller claimed a man had shot and killed his father, was holding his mother and younger brother hostage, and was planning to set the house on fire. An innocent man was killed in his home by the police believing they were responding to an active shooter.
Reilly’s plan would increase the penalty for swatting to equal that of attempted murder. Additionally, the penalty for swatting that leads to death would increase to that of first-degree murder under the plan.
House Bills 4598-99 have been referred to the House Judiciary Committee for consideration.