The Kansas Senate has passed a bill that increases the penalties for people who make “swatting” calls.
The bill was sparked by a swatting incident in December in which Andrew Finch was killed by Wichita Police responding to a fake call about a hostage situation at his address.
Swatting involves making a false 911 call to draw law enforcement to an address.
Finch was shot when he came onto his porch to investigate the police activity outside. Police have said Finch disobeyed police commands and was reaching towards his waistband when he was shot.
An investigation into the shooting by the Sedgwick County District Attorney continues.
The man who made the call, Tyler Barriss, is awaiting trial on charges of involuntary manslaughter, giving false alarm and interference with a law enforcement officer.
The new bill — named the Andrew T. Finch Act — stiffens penalties for making an unlawful request for emergency services and for using an electronic device or software to conceal or disguise the caller’s identity.
It also increases the penalties if someone is injured or killed during the incident by emergency responders. If someone dies, the person who made the fake call could be charged with a homicide.
If a person is charged with a crime, the bill would prohibit a defense in court that blames others — such as police — for the injuries.
The bill was introduced last month by Reps. John Carmichael and John Whitmer of Wichita and Patty Markley of Overland Park. It passed the House in February and now awaits Gov. Jeff Colyer’s signature.
U.S. Rep. Ron Estes of Wichita has introduced similar legislation at the federal level.
Tom Shine is the director of news and public affairs. Follow him on Twitter @thomaspshine.
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