Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes ofwebsite accessibility
Close Alert

New bill harshens penalties for false reports to police

FILE PHOTO - The General Assembly Building in Capitol Square on April 4, 2022. Richmond, Virginia. (Credit: WSET)
FILE PHOTO - The General Assembly Building in Capitol Square on April 4, 2022. Richmond, Virginia. (Credit: WSET)
Facebook Share IconTwitter Share IconEmail Share Icon

Delegate Wendell Walker (R-23rd District) brought forward legislation in the House that would harshen penalties for people who intentionally make false threats to police.

Walker said that this bill was inspired by a conversation with local law enforcement on what needs to be done about the frequency of false threats made to schools.

"So what we've done with this bill is put more teeth into law enforcement," said Walker. "What we're finding across the commonwealth, you know, a lot of law enforcement are telling me 'Mr. Walker, this is almost a monthly or weekly occurrence'," he added.

Under the bill, it would be a Class 1 Misdemeanor to intentionally report a false emergency (i.e. a bomb threat) that results in an emergency response. The penalty for this could be up to 12 months in jail.

SEE ALSO: LU's Dean of Business explains how the Silicon Valley banking collapse could impact you

It would be considered a Class 6 Felony if this false report results in someone's bodily harm, and a Class 5 Felony if someone died as a result of the threat.

It also said that anyone convicted of these charges would have to foot the bill for the emergency response in addition to time behind bars.

"It's not a little slap on the hand. You have to reimburse all safety personnel that was involved in that safety incident as well as the misdemeanor," said Walker.

"The hope is that this bill that we've worked on with Delegate Walker will send a clear message to anyone that might be considering calling in some type of false threat that it's not going to be taken lightly," said Lynchburg Police Chief Ryan Zuidema.

SEE ALSO: Lynchburg City Council to hold public hearing on potential Jones Memorial Library hotel

Zuidema said that it is much needed, especially considering it's something that keeps happening.

"We've certainly seen over the last several years what seems to be a larger number of those threats around the country and even some locally here," said Zuidema.

The Chief said that they have to take every threat seriously, which takes time and resources to investigate and clear scenes as safe.

"It takes time to safely search that school for both the officers as well as the staff and the students. It takes a considerable amount of time. We're already in a position where our staffing is challenged. That further challenges that we deal with incidents like this," Zuidema shared.

According to his team, Governor Youngkin is reviewing the bill.

Loading ...