Calif. lawmakers move to punish hoax 911 'swatting'

SACRAMENTO, Calif. - Legislation approved by the state Senate would force pranksters who make hoax 911 calls like the ones used to target celebrities pay for the cost of police responding to the fake emergencies.

The practice is commonly known as "swatting" because police often respond to what appears to be a dire emergency by mobilizing their Special Weapons and Tactics teams. The costs can top $10,000.

The calls have increasingly been used to target celebrities such as Justin Bieber, Tom Cruise and Chris Brown in an effort to draw publicity.

Sen. Ted Lieu, a Democrat from Torrance, says such calls are expensive, disruptive and dangerous.

Senators passed his bill, SB 333, on a 33-0 vote Thursday, sending it to the Assembly.

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