by J.D. Davidson
Penalties for fleeing police officers and making false 911 calls would increase if a pair of bills aimed at first-responder safety introduced in the Ohio House become law.
House Bill 580, which has had one hearing in the House Criminal Justice Committee, increases penalties for fleeing from a law enforcement officer in a motor vehicle from a first-degree misdemeanor to a fourth-degree felony at a minimum in all cases.
“House Bill 580 is a pro-law enforcement piece of legislation aimed at reducing the prevalence of dangerous and reckless vehicle pursuits while holding those who engage in these actions accountable to appropriate penalties and sanctions,” State Rep. Kevin Miller, R-Newark, said.
In a news release, Miller said police departments have started to adopt no chase or pursuit policies, which have caused a 33% increase in vehicle pursuits over the past five years, according to the Ohio State Highway Patrol.
A second piece of legislation would prohibit making false 911 calls to get police or SWAT to respond to a place where there is no emergency.
HB462, also in the Criminal Justice Committee, takes aim at the trend of “swatting,” which Miller says creates a safety issues and wastes law enforcement resources.
“The practice of swatting is extremely dangerous to not only the first responders or law enforcement involved but also for those in the community who may need assistance but are unable to receive it due to the swatting,” said Miller.
Officials from the Ohio attorney general’s office, along with two local police departments, testified at the bill’s second hearing in support of the legislation.
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J.D. Davidson is a regular contributor to The Center Square. An Ohio native, Davidson is a veteran journalist with more than 30 years of experience in newspapers in Ohio, Georgia, Alabama and Texas. He has served as a reporter, editor, managing editor and publisher.
Photo “SWAT Team” by Oregon Department of Transportation CC2.0.