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Bill that would make 'swatting' a felony heads to Gov. Beshear's desk

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Posted at 4:12 PM, Mar 31, 2022

FRANKFORT, Ky. (LEX 18) — A bill aimed at harshening the penalty for swatting is one step closer to being a law in Kentucky. All it needs now is the governor's signature. It's on his desk now according to the bill's sponsor, State Representative Phillip Pratt, R-Georgetown.

Swatting is when someone maliciously falsely reports a crime or an emergency to launch a police response to an unsuspecting person's home. It can put the victims in serious danger, and also create a dangerous situation for police.

A couple in Scott County was a victim of this so-called prank last year. Our LEX 18 Investigates team reported on the situation, a story that was used in Representative Pratt's push for the bill which would make swatting a Class D felony with a punishment of up to two years in prison.

It was a nightmare for the couple when armed officers showed up at their home with guns drawn.

"I was petrified, I said what is going on here?" said one of the victims.

That was a year ago. Even though no one was hurt, to this day, the victims say they're still traumatized by it and have since moved because of the bad memories. But now, after a series of our reports, the victims are closer to getting what they wanted: Tougher penalties for the dangerous crime of swatting.

"I don't see a problem with the governor signing this bill it's a very important bill, and we really need this," said Sheriff Tony Hampton with the Scott County Sheriff's Office.

In this case, the caller was never caught and even if he was, deputies say there'd be little consequence. Maybe a $25 fine for falsely reporting an incident. But now, the punishment includes jail time.

"Now we have a law with some teeth in it," said Hampton.