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Lawmakers Debate Tougher Penalties For 'Swatting' Calls

DENVER (CBS4) - State lawmakers are calling for a crackdown on "swatters" who are known to call 911 with fake emergencies, prompting SWAT teams to respond.

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In Colorado, swatters can only be charged with misdemeanors. Only bomb threats are felonies.

Some lawmakers want to make the fake calls a tougher offense.

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CBS4's Shaun Boyd interviews Sen. John Cooke. (credit: CBS)

A swatting incident in Littleton made national news. A gamer there was arrested as he was live streaming after police got a call of an active shooter at the location.

Schools and businesses were locked down for more than an hour before police realized it was a hoax.

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Fortunately, no one was hurt in that case, but a swatting call in Kansas earlier this year lead to a man being shot and killed.

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The proposed bill would make it a felony for someone to knowingly make a false report that results in a SWAT callout.

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The bill not only applies to swatting, but threats to open fire at schools or public buildings.

Anyone convicted would have to pay for the emergency response, including fire, police and ambulance. The bill passed its first committee unanimously and is up for final passage in the state Senate on Monday.

The FBI estimates there are 400 cases of swatting nationwide every year.

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