LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Pranksters could soon pay the price—literally—for “swatting” celebrity homes.
A bill introduced by state Sen. Ted Lieu, which passed the State Senate Public Safety Committee Tuesday, would help curb the bogus 911 calls by ordering guilty culprits to pay the thousands of dollars ($10,000) associated with the incident.
“This is just one piece of the puzzle,” said Lieu, who hopes the bill becomes law in September. “We’re gonna need a lot of other things to happen to mitigate this problem such as having better technology.”
The hoax emergency calls, which are done to solicit a large police response, have been happening at near-epidemic proportions, Lieu said.
In recent months, Ashton Kutcher, Justin Bieber, Bruce and Kris Jenner, Miley Cyrus, and Tom Cruise, to name a few, have fallen victim to the prank.
A 12-year-old boy who sent the SWAT team to Kutcher’s home was later found guilty of the crime and a San Bernardino judge gave him time in a juvenile hall.
Just last week, rapper Diddy, Rihanna, Justin Timberlake and Selena Gomez were “swatted.”
LAPD Chief Charlie Beck said the fake calls put everyone at risk. He also doesn’t think the practice should be called “swatting.”
“There is no SWAT. SWAT does not respond to these calls,” he said. “Those are your community police officers going. It’s the people that are watching your houses. It’s the people who are taking care of public safety in Los Angeles every day.”
Beck continued, “I think punishment is important. On our side, we need to make sure we can identify ‘swatting’ calls as they come in so we can limit our response.”