(WSET) — Among the 51 bills signed by Governor Youngkin, one was that will make swatting calls punishable by up to a year in jail.
"Swatting" is the term used when a fake emergency is called into law enforcement and their crews respond.
This is something that the Bedford County Sheriff's Office had to deal with recently when someone called in an emergency to Forest Edge Drive that never really happened.
When law enforcement arrived, they quickly realized that it was a hoax, but not before their crews were dispatched, and even rerouted from other emergencies.
"We were actually going to a different incident with a lot of resources and had to divide our resources," said Captain Shannon Zimmerman with the Bedford County Sheriff's Office. He said that fake calls really deplete their resources - something law enforcement across the nation is already challenged by.
"It's definitely a lot of tax dollars wasted to respond to these types of incidents," said Zimmerman. "We spend a lot of time, a lot of manpower, investigation afterwards included a lot of extra manpower going to different locations throughout the state, also following up with phone companies and things like that," he added.
And those resources are still being used, as this particular investigation is still ongoing.
Under this law, a fake report of an emergency in which there is emergency response could be a Class 1 Misdemeanor. If that fake report results in someone's bodily harm, it would be a Class 6 Felony, and if someone were to die as a result of the false report, it would be a Class 5 Felony. This Bill was first introduced in the House by Delegate Wendell Walker (R-23rd District) and in the Senate by Senator Creigh Deeds (D-25th District).