On February 21, 2023, MACo Legislative Director Kevin Kinnally testified in support of HB 745 Criminal Law – False Statements – Emergency or Commission of Crime (Antiswatting Act of 2023) before the House Judiciary Committee. This bill would strengthen state laws to protect first responders and residents from malicious threats that disrupt emergency communications and jeopardize public safety.
HB 745 would expressly prohibit “swatting,” where an individual places a phony 9-1-1 call, often alleging a hostage situation or other serious circumstance, to dispatch 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.
From the MACo Testimony:
The bill prohibits a person from making a false statement to a “governmental emergency report recipient” with reckless disregard of causing bodily harm to an individual as a direct result of a response to the false statement. The bill (1) specifies criminal penalties for violations, (2) establishes a civil cause of action against a person who causes injuries because of a violation, (3) contains venuerelated provisions, and (4) authorizes court-ordered reimbursement of individuals who incur damages because of a response to a prohibited false statement.
By strengthening state laws to protect 9-1-1 centers, first responders, and residents from dangerous swatting incidents, SB 340 would enhance public safety in Maryland and in our local communities. Accordingly, MACo urges the Committee to issue a FAVORABLE report on SB 340.
The Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee heard the bill’s cross-file, SB 340, on February 21.
More on MACo’s Advocacy:
Follow MACo’s advocacy efforts during the 2023 legislative session on MACo’s Legislative Tracking Database
Learn more about MACo’s 2023 Legislative Initiatives
Read more General Assembly News on MACo’s Conduit Street blog