Lawmaker wants stricter penalties following Christmas swatting incidents

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(The Center Square) — A state lawmaker said he plans to push stronger penalties for anyone who makes a swatting call, a hoax 911 call reporting a fake emergency prompting authorities to respond to an unsuspecting house.

The move comes after several Georgia lawmakers were swatted during the Christmas holiday.

“I plan to work with Senators from both sides of the aisle during the 2024 Legislative Session to introduce legislation strengthening penalties for false reporting and misuse of police forces,” state Sen. Clint Dixon, R-Gwinnett, said in a statement.

“This issue goes beyond politics — it’s about public safety and preserving the integrity of our institutions,” Dixon added. “We will not stand for these threats of violence and intimidation. Those involved in swatting must be held accountable under the full extent of the law.”

Dixon, state Sen. John Albers, R-Roswell, state Sen. Kim Jackson, D-Stone Mountain, state Sen. Kay Kirkpatrick, R-Marietta, and Lt. Governor Burt Jones, a Republican, were among the lawmakers swatted.

“It serves as a stark reminder of the challenges faced by our law enforcement agencies in distinguishing between genuine threats and false alarms,” Kirkpatrick said in a statement.

A push for new legislation addressing swatting could have at least some bipartisan support.

“Democrats condemn swatting, full stop,” state Sen. Josh McLaurin, D-Atlanta, said in a post to X, formerly known as Twitter. “I’m glad my colleague [Dixon] is safe and agree this is a problem demanding legislative attention.”

A Georgia Bureau of Investigation representative told The Center Square the agency’s “Cyber Unit is working closely with our local, state, and federal partners to determine who is responsible for the recent swatting incidents impacting several Georgia lawmakers.”

In a post to X, Jones said, “We will put an end to this madness. We are in full compliance with law enforcement, and I am confident that those responsible will be brought to justice and be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”

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