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Los Angeles to consider crackdown on celebrity 'swatting'

April 09, 2013|By Joseph Serna

The Los Angeles City Council is expected to consider a motion Tuesday to crack down on “swatting” incidents, in which police are dispatched to celebrities’ homes on false crime reports.

Councilman Paul Koretz will ask the council to consider assigning several city agencies to help with the effort.

Koretz wants the police department’s public safety committee to return within 30 days with suggestions on how the council can help limit the false police reports, which have led to at least one officer's injury.

The motion would ask the city attorney's office to create an ordinance that would make the caller pay restitution for all costs associated with sending out police en masse, and to evaluate the idea of offering a reward leading to the arrest and conviction of such callers.

In just the last two weeks, at least four celebrities--Russell Brand, Rihanna, Justin Timberlake and Selena Gomez -- have been “swatted.”

The term comes from the SWAT-style police response the calls can trigger. The reported crimes have included shootings, armed robberies and murder. The callers often disguise their locations, making it difficult for police to trace.

A boy was arrested in December for swatting, the Times reported.

The spate of recent incidents has increased the urgency among local and state officials to stem the tide. Assemblyman Mike Gatto (D-Los Angeles), has introduced a bill that would increase the penalties for false calls to 911.

AB 47 would make “swatters” subject to a $10,000 fine and up to a year in jail. It would be two years in jail if someone was injured during the police response, and a potential manslaughter charge if someone died as a result of the call, according to the bill.

The bill is currently in committee.

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Joseph.serna@latimes.com

@josephserna

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