Senate Passes Brooks’ Bill to Protect Kids, Conserve Emergency Response Resources

HARRISBURG – Legislation sponsored by Sen. Michele Brooks (R-50) to introduce felony criminal penalties for falsely reporting threats at school entities and institutions of higher education in Pennsylvania passed the Senate today.

Senate Bill 975 would make it a felony of the third degree to knowingly report a false threat at a school or educational facility. In addition, it would allow courts to sentence anyone convicted to pay the costs of an evacuation or response that resulted from the threat.

These costs may include supplies, equipment or materials to respond to the threat, food that went unused because of the evacuation or diversion from standard operations of a school, and salary and wages – including overtime pay – for those who respond to the threat and any teacher, administrator or other educational facility employee who was paid despite the diversion.

“Last year, hoax callers falsely alerted law enforcement agencies of active school shooter situations across the state, including schools in Crawford, Mercer, and Lawrence counties.  These calls triggered a massive emergency response, causing tremendous stress for students their families and teachers, and using up valuable public safety resources,” Brooks said. “If we don’t take action to punish threats made to our schools, they will inevitably result in accidents, injuries and worse. This bill sends a clear message to perpetrators that reporting a false threat to schools and higher education institutions will result in serious criminal and financial consequences.”

Having received bipartisan Senate support, the bill now moves to the House of Representatives for consideration.

CONTACT: Adam Gingrich, 717-787-1322

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