Law & Justice

Anti-Swatting Bill Co-Sponsored by Union County Assemblywoman Becomes Law


TRENTON, NJ – Shortly before 3 p.m. on Sunday, July 22, Kenilworth police received a 911 phone call claiming that a resident was holding his brother and sister hostage with a pipe bomb. The call mobilized the Union County SWAT and bomb squads to the home and forced the evacuation of two dozen neighbors. The call was a prank known as swatting. The incident not only cost the tax payers, unnerved the victim and his neighbors, but could have resulted in injury for the participants.   

That incident followed two that occurred the month before in neighboring towns. Last June, two schools in Cranford, the high school and Brookside, were placed on lockdown due to swatting. Next, it was Linden’s turn when all the city’s schools and its 6,000 students were locked down due to a threatening anonymous call that turned out to be a fake.

Swatting is the modern form of the old crank call, only with more dangerous and costly consequences. As the FBI describes it, swatting starts as a hoax call to 9-1-1 to draw a response from law enforcement, usually a SWAT team. The call is perpetrated by tech-savvy individuals, many of whom are teens and twenty-somethings with ties to the online gaming community. They make it appear that the emergency call is coming from the victim's phone.

Sign Up for E-News

Today, November 9, newly re-elected Assemblywoman Annette Quijano (D-Union) was one of five legislators who sponsored legislation that was signed into law cracking down on this dangerous trend.

She joined co-sponsors Paul Moriarty (D-Camden/Gloucester), Bob Andrzejczak (Cape May/Atlantic/ Cumberland), Vince Mazzeo (D-Atlantic), and Gabriela Mosquera (D-Camden, Gloucester). The measure was unanimously approved by the full Assembly, 74-0, on June 11, and by the Senate 40-0, on June 26.

The legislation was prompted by a string of recent hoax incidents in New Jersey that have drawn large-scale law enforcement responses. A family’s house in Millville was surrounded by a law enforcement team who believed a violent altercation was taking place inside.  Moriarty himself was the target of a swatting incident after news of his efforts to stop the practice became public. Since then, there have been a string of more recent swatting incidents -- including a gaming shop in Clifton, a home in Upper Freehold, and an elementary school in Holmdel, and incidents continue to rise.

“Authorities estimate that the dangerous hoax costs New Jersey law enforcement agencies tens of thousands of dollars every year while diverting resources from other real crimes and putting innocent residents in the crossfire,” said Quijano. This demands a concerted effort to both crack down on this practice and underscore the severity of it so parents can talk to their kids about it and stay on top of their activities.”

The new law upgrades the crime of false public alarm to a crime of the second degree whenever the act:

1)      involved a report or warning of an impending bombing, hostage situation, or person armed with a deadly weapon; or

2)      involved a report or warning about any critical infrastructure located in this state, defined as “any building, place of assembly, or facility that is indispensably necessary for national security, economic stability, or public safety.”

The bill would also require statewide law enforcement reporting on all incidents of false public alarms. 

Under current law, such an act is ordinarily a crime of the third degree, punishable by a term of imprisonment of three to five years, a fine of up to $15,000, or both. Under the new law (A-4375, the crime would be punishable by a term of imprisonment of five to 10 years, a fine of up to $150,000, or both. The responsible party would also be liable, based on existing law, for a civil penalty of $2,000 or the actual costs of responding to the false alarm. 


TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News


Upcoming Events

Tue, February 20, 11:00 AM

Vauxhall Library, Vauxhall

Toddler & Pre-K Program


Wed, February 21, 6:00 PM

Vauxhall Library, Vauxhall

Club Teen: Painting Class

Arts & Entertainment Education

Wed, February 21, 7:00 PM

Congregation Beth Israel, Scotch Plains

Course on Biblical Interpretation Taught by ...

Education Religions And Spirituality

Union County Freeholders Partner in Two Upcoming Hiring Events

February 17, 2018

ELIZABETH, NJ – The Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders have announced two hiring event opportunities coming up with Griswold Home Care of Union County and the United Airlines “Summer Assist” youth program.

The first event is with Griswold Home Care of Union County. They are a privately owned, non-medical home care company and are looking for Certified Home Health Aides ...

“Hidden in Plain Sight” - A Presentation Centered Around a Teen’s Bedroom 

ROSELLE, NJ - Elizabeth Parents, grandparents, caregivers, when it comes to your children and drugs, do you know where to look? Do you know what you are looking for? You may be surprised at what is "Hidden in Plain Sight."

The Roselle Everett Hatcher Prevention Coalition and Prevention Links invite all parents, grandparents, caregivers, teachers and other adults from the city of ...

Summit resident Nancy King will be honored with a Lifetime Service Award from Elizabeth Organization

ELIZABETH, NJ - Summit resident Nancy King will be honored with a Lifetime Service Award as Family and Children’s Services of Elizabeth, celebrates its 125th anniversary, hosting the organization's sixth annual Red Carpet Party March 1, at Canoe Brook Country Club.

King is the founder and benefactor of "Nancy’s Place," a Covenant House ... Named Partner of the Year by NJ News Commons

NEW PROVIDENCE, NJ - has been named Partner of the Year by NJ News Commons, a network of more than 230 news organizations across New Jersey.  The award goes to a journalist or news organization that showed overall excellence in their work for 2017.    

Joe Amditis, Associate Director of the Center for Cooperative Media, said TAPinto won the award ...

At Westfield High School, Student Says ‘It’s Almost Normal to Juul Here’

February 16, 2018

Editor’s note: This story about the rise in teen e-cigarette use, written by Westfield High School student Greta Frontero, originally ran in the Jan. 8 edition of WHS student newspaper Hi’s Eye.

WESTFIELD, NJ — A 12th-grade Westfield High School female said she doesn’t bring her Juul to school, but will use someone else’s if the opportunity ...

Nutley Police Department: Video Does Not Contain Direct Threat to Nutley Public Schools

February 16, 2018

NUTLEY, NJ - The Nutley Police Department reports that the video leading to Nutley Public Schools being closed on Friday did not pose a direct threat to any of the township's schools.

Police reported at 11 a.m. Friday that the person responsible for the video has been cooperating with the Nutley Police Department in their investigation. Interviews are on-going. The ...

Letter to the Editor: I Stand With Her for Union County Chairman

February 16, 2018

Dear Editor:

My name is Patti Murgo. I am Committeewoman in Linden’s Eighth Ward.   I am a life-long  DEMOCRAT, a party activist, and a believer in what being a democrat stands for.  Last week I received a piece of literature from our municipal chairman, Nick Scutari, regarding his “plans” for the County Democratic Party if he is elected county ...

'What Stays' exposes family secrets and lies

‘What Stays’ exposes family secrets, resentment and lies

By Liz Keill

SUMMIT, NJ – In an original play by Laura Ekstrand and Jason Szamreta, the Dreamcatcher Repertory Theatre has provided an enlightening, funny and heart-felt view of family foibles.

Ekstrand has said that the germ of the play came from conversations with the ensemble members of the troupe, based on ...

'American Hero' explores with powerful performances

‘American Hero’ pulses with tension, clashing emotions at George Street

By Liz Keill

NEW BRUNWICK – The issue of social injustice makes its way into “American Hero,” the second play in a trilogy by Christopher Demo-Brown.

Armand Schultz as Rob is to receive a medal of honor for his heroic actions during the Iraq war. Although he lost the use of his legs, he ...

Mintz & Geftic Secures Class Certification for Drivers in Wage and Hour Case

February 16, 2018

Is your employer failing to pay you time and a half for working more than 40 hours/week?

Is your employer misclassifying you as an independent contractor rather than an employee to avoid paying overtime premium pay?

These are some of the allegations being made by the plaintiffs and their attorney Bryan Mintz, of Mintz & Geftic LLC, against Big City Automotive and its ...