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LI Lawmakers Seek To Make Radio Frequency Jamming A Criminal Offense

MINEOLA, N.Y. (CBSNewYork/AP) - Two Long Island congressmen have reached across the aisle to co-sponsor a bipartisan measure targeting those who interfere with emergency responder radio signals.

Democratic Rep. Steve Israel and Republican Rep. Peter King said they will introduce the bill, titled the Emergency Responder Radio Communications Protection Act, in Congress this week.

King and Israel want a law that would make intentional radio frequency jamming a criminal offense carrying a sentence of up to 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine, in addition to existing civil penalties.

"First responders put their lives on the line to protect New York families. In order to do so effectively, our emergency responders need to be able to communicate without interruption over their radios. Those who intentionally obstruct these radios, like the individual who was jamming the Melville Fire Department's radio, should face criminal penalties that go beyond just the fines that they face under current law," Rep. Israel said in a statement.

"This is critical not only to first responders but to all Long Islanders. It is imperative that emergency communication remains seamless. Those who seek to intentionally obstruct and put the lives of the community at risk need to be criminally punished. This legislation will do just that," Rep. King added.

The legislation follows the arrest last year of a man suspected of jamming radio frequencies for the Melville Fire Department on Long Island. The suspect is facing a state charge of obstructing governmental administration.

A fire official said the suspect was interfering with radio signals for months. He said there were no injuries as a result, but firefighters had to sometimes switch frequencies during emergencies.

"With advancements in technology, there needs to come advancements in the law," Suffolk County Police Commissioner Edward Webber said.

The case against the Melville suspect is pending.

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