Cooke Bill Takes Aim at Potentially-Deadly “Pranks”

Denver -- A bill boosting criminal penalties against those engaged in potentially-deadly pranks such as “swatting,” in which fake emergencies are reported with the aim of sending police tactical units to an unsuspecting target’s home, passed its first test at the Statehouse today, when Senator John Cooke’s Senate Bill-68 passed the Senate Judiciary Committee on a 5-0 bipartisan vote.

As a former Weld County Sheriff, Cooke understands how dangerous it can get, for innocent parties and police personnel alike, any time tactical units are deployed. “My hope is that the stiffer penalties included in my bill will help send a clear message that potentially-deadly ‘pranks’ of this sort aren’t a laughing matter and now longer will get you a slap on the wrist in Colorado,” Cooke said after SB-68 was approved.

Currently, falsely reporting an emergency is a Class 1 misdemeanor in Colorado. But SB-68 ratchets-up the charges, depending on how much physical harm or danger to public safety such incidents cause. False reports would now become Class 6 or Class 4 felonies, for instance, if bodily injury or serious bodily injury to individuals result. And a false report resulting in death could now be charged as a Class 3 felony. In addition, the bill holds guilty parties responsible for the cost of any emergency response.

“We most recently saw in Kansas just how tragically wrong things can go when first responders are dispatched to what they believe is a potentially-deadly situation, even if it’s just a fake report meant as a malicious prank,” Cooke said. “The message we want to send with this bill is that swatting and similarly-dangerous stunts will get you swatted by the law, big time, if anyone is hurt as a result of your foolishness.”

SB-68 next moves to the Appropriations Committee for action.

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