TOPEKA, Kan. — Kansas lawmakers have approved tougher penalties for making false calls to police three months after an officer fatally shot a Wichita man during a deadly hoax emergency call.
The Wichita Eagle reports the bill makes fake calls that result in death a felony comparable to second-degree murder. Any false call for emergency help would be at least a misdemeanor, becoming a felony if the caller uses a fake identity or electronically masks their identity.
The practice is known as “swatting,” and occurs when someone makes a call to police with a false story of an ongoing crime in an attempt to draw a large number of police officers to a particular address.
The bill is named the Andrew Finch Act, after the man killed by Wichita police as they responded to a hoax emergency call in December that they thought was a hostage situation. The legislation was championed by his mother, Lisa Finch.
“Perhaps passing this bill will give her a little bit of peace,” Sen. Lynn Rogers, D-Wichita,
The bill is headed to Gov. Jeff Colyer after the Legislature passed it on Tuesday. The Senate approved House Bill 2581 on a 40-0 vote. The House approved it unanimously in February. The governor has 10 days after receiving legislation to sign or veto it.
Rogers read a statement from Lisa Finch on the Senate floor: “He loved his children the most and he was dedicated to making sure his family and the others he let into his life were comfortable and felt safe. He was everyone’s protector.”
Tyler Barriss, 25, of Los Angeles, has been charged with manslaughter in Finch’s death for allegedly making the bogus call.