Counties: Anti-Swatting Act is Pro-Safety

On March 1, 2022, Executive Director Michael Sanderson testified before the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee in support of SB 881 – Criminal Law – False Statements – Emergency or Commission of Crime (Antiswatting Act of 2022).

This bill prohibits a person from engaging in “swatting” – a harmful practice of contacting public safety authorities falsely describing a dangerous situation requiring a high-level police response. Doing so to deliberately summon police to the address of a foe or rival has become a disturbing trend.

“Our testimony speaks to this being a waste of resources, and that’s enough reason to pass this bill,” said Mr. Sanderson, “but it’s the least important reason. Someone is going to get killed.” He discussed the high risk triggered by a response to the situation described in a “swatting” call and urged the Committee to support legislation to target this malevolent practice.

From the MACo testimony

SB 881 would expressly prohibit “swatting,” where an individual places a phony 9-1-1 call, often alleging a hostage situation or other serious circumstance, with the intention of dispatching law enforcement personnel to an address where no emergency exists. By weaponizing 9-1-1 and public emergency response staff, swatting places first responders and civilians in danger, and drains limited public safety resources.

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Michael Sanderson

Executive Director Maryland Association of Counties