LOS ANGELES: Celebrities have long contended with the occasional downsides of stardom — tabloid scandals, stalkers, box office bombs, the paparazzi. Now, add “swatting” to the list — a prank that sends police charging to the gates of stars’ homes on false reports of gunmen, hostages or other crimes in progress.
Instead of bad guys, responding officers, police dogs, helicopters and sometimes SWAT teams have found only stunned domestic and security staff unaware of any trouble — because there wasn’t any.
The recent hoax 911 calls to the homes of Tom Cruise, Justin Bieber, Ashton Kutcher, Chris Brown and other stars are leading authorities to eye some 911 calls with extra suspicion and lawmakers to call for stiffer penalties for the pranksters...
...Los Angeles police Cmdr. Andrew Smith said the department has seen an increase in the number of swatting calls since last year, when stars such as Kutcher, Bieber and Cyrus were targeted.
“People are jumping on the bandwagon thinking it’s funny or a clever or interesting,” Smith said. The calls aren’t just tying up patrol officers, but also investigators probing the pranks who could be assigned to larger crimes.
“The last thing we want to have our detectives do is spend a bunch of time on a foolish prank like this,” he said. “We want our detective handling robberies, burglaries and other crimes...”
...The California bill, which is also being proposed by Assemblyman Mike Gatto, would increase the penalties for convicted swatters to up to three years in jail if someone was hurt as a result of their call, and also make them responsible for the costs of the emergency response...
You can read this article and more at Dawn.com by click HERE
Mike Gatto is the Chairman of the Appropriations Committee of the California State Assembly. He represents the cities of Burbank, Glendale, La Canada-Flintridge, La Crescenta, Montrose, the Los Angeles neighborhoods of Los Feliz, Silver Lake, Atwater Village, and portions of the Hollywood Hills and East Hollywood. www.asm.ca.gov/gatto
# # #