LA City Council OKs rewards in ‘swatting’ cases

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(AP Photo)

(AP Photo)

LOS ANGELES (CNS) – The Los Angeles City Council gave final approval today to an ordinance  allowing the city to offer rewards in “swatting” pranks in which people make phony reports to draw SWAT officers to the homes of celebrities or other high-profile figures.

City officials, already authorized to offer rewards for crimes that result in “economic injuries” suffered through “unnecessary emergency response,” makes it clear “swatting” is among those crimes.

It defines swatting as a “malicious prank that causes a law enforcement emergency response to a location where no crime is occurring.”

The idea was proposed by City Councilman Paul Koretz, who was soon targeted and twice had his home swarmed with law enforcement officers based on false reports.

Though the vote to approve the ordinance was unanimous last week, not enough council members were present to pass the legislation outright.

“This is an aggressive group of people, and I think we do need to respond to this kind of thing,” Koretz said.”Something will eventually go wrong if we don’t nip this practice in the bud.”

Koretz said he was getting into the shower April 10 when several police officers arrived at his apartment with guns drawn. Police had a report shots were fired at Koretz’s apartment, whose address was identified as the home of former Laker Magic Johnson.

Koretz said he held up his City Council identification badge and apologized to the officers, saying he wasn’t “letting you in while I’m naked.”

He said he persuaded police to let him get dressed before letting them in.

Two days later, a bogus report sent police to Koretz’s home again. Police said someone reported hostages were being held in a closet.

Sen. Ted Lieu, D-Redondo Beach, introduced “anti-swatting” state legislation earlier this year, and his home was also targeted by pranksters in April.

Lieu’s wife was ordered out of their home by police, who received a text claiming Lieu had shot his wife. Lieu was not home at the time and was initially shaken when he learned there was a report that his wife had been shot.

Also in April, pranksters claimed there had been an assault at the home of record producer and rapper Sean Combs, a shooting at singer Rihanna’s home, shots fired at the home of Justin Timberlake and a homicide at the home of singer Selena Gomez.

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