Senator Kent presents her Emergency 911 calls bill on the Senate floor.
I was proud to chief author Senate File 1168, which passed off the Senate Floor this week. SF 1168 relates to emergency 911 calls and is my first bill to pass through the entire Senate. It is a great feeling to see a bill I have guided since the beginning make it through the committee process and be passed by the Senate.
One of the reasons I brought this forward is in response to a situation we had in Oakdale recently. The bill creates criminal charges against those who call 911 under false pretenses, along with establishing appropriate penalties to go along with these charges. It was unanimously passed with bipartisan support.
Senate File 1168 creates the option for a prosecutor to charge an individual with a felony if the individual intentionally reports a fictitious emergency with the intent of getting an emergency response, and if an emergency responder or someone else is seriously injured or killed as a result of the emergency.
Furthermore, the bill also makes it a felony to use multiple communications devices to interfere with, overload, or otherwise prevent the emergency call center’s system from functioning properly, thereby preventing callers from getting through when trying to seek emergency help for themselves or others in need.
Laws need to keep up with evolving technology. As new devices and new ways of committing crimes are developed, it is important the law also change to reflect the new reality police officers face.
Every time an officer responds to an emergency call it carries risk. Perhaps you’ve heard of some high profile cases involving celebrities. In these cases, offenders make a false 911 report of a serious crime in progress, such as an armed assault, with the goal of getting a SWAT team to make a forced entry into a celebrity’s house. As a result, this has become known as “swatting.” As you can imagine, this could lead to citizens and law enforcement officers being placed in grave danger.
We want to make sure our emergency responders spend time and energy on real crises, not waste it chasing down false claims.
I’m honored to have the support of emergency response organizations including the Metropolitan Emergency Services Board, the Minnesota’s Sheriff’s Association, the Minnesota Chiefs of Police and the Minnesota Ambulance Association.