CRIME, POLICE + COURTS

Utah bill targets adults and students who swat public schools

Jan 17, 2024, 3:22 PM | Updated: Mar 13, 2024, 4:33 pm

Police maintain a presence after responding to false threats of shots fired at Ogden High School in...

FILE: Police maintain a presence after responding to false threats of shots fired at Ogden High School in Ogden on Wednesday, March 29, 2023. Police agencies along the Wasatch Front and northern Utah responded to similar reports of school violence on Wednesday morning. (Kristin Murphy/Deseret News)

(Kristin Murphy/Deseret News)

Editor’s note: This story has been edited to reflect the correct names of the bill sponsors.

SALT LAKE CITY — A bill passed by the Utah House would give harsher penalties for adults and students who swat Utah public schools.

HB14 School Threat Penalty Assessments, sponsored by Rep. Ryan D. Wilcox, R-Ogden, and Sen. Don Ipson, R-St. George, would elevate swatting to a second-degree felony. The bill passed out of the Utah House on a vote of 73-1.

Swatting occurs when a hoax call is made to 911 which prompts an extreme police response to a bogus threat, like the use of SWAT teams.

If passed by the Utah Senate, swatting a school could be punishable by up to 15 years in prison and a $10,000 fine. A school could suspend or expel students found guilty of swatting.

Last year Utah experienced a large-scale swat attempt against multiple schools from Logan to St. George.

The swat was a costly prank, for both Utah law enforcement and healthcare providers who quickly prepared to respond to the hoax.

Related: The search for the caller behind Utah’s 13 school hoaxes

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Utah bill targets adults and students who swat public schools