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Statement from Congressman Engel on Swatting Incident at LaGuardia Airport

Statement from Congressman Engel on Swatting Incident at LaGuardia Airport

Washington, D.C. – Congressman Eliot Engel, a senior member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, issued the following statement regarding yesterday’s swatting incident at LaGuardia Airport:

The swatting that occurred yesterday at LaGuardia Airport, was just the latest in a series of pranks that have put our first-responders at risk and wasted thousands of taxpayer dollars nationwide.

Whether it be Rye or Eastchester or now Queens, all the way across the country to Arizona and California, swatting has become a dangerous and costly criminal activity. In New York especially, incidents of swatting have developed into much more than a passing criminal fad—they are now an unfortunate way of life for our law enforcement officers.

These hoaxes force courageous first responders to waste precious time and resources every time they occur. They risk injury to unassuming members of the community who are present when law enforcement arrives at a supposed crime scene anticipating danger. They illegitimately occupy law enforcement’s time, creating a situation where they may be unavailable to respond to an actual, life-threatening emergency in a timely fashion. And in addition to everything else, the cost of responding to one of these phony emergencies to the taxpayer can run as high as $100,000.

Any way you look at it, we simply cannot allow swatting to continue.

Following several incidents in my district, in April, I introduced H.R. 2031, the Anti-Swatting Act, to address this growing problem. My bill would increase penalties for those found guilty of swatting and require them to reimburse law enforcement agencies for squandered resources. This would hold perpetrators financially and criminally responsible for their actions. The bill has already garnered significant bipartisan support in the House, and I have worked closely with Senator Schumer who has introduced his own companion anti-swatting bill in the Senate.

It is clear that passing this important legislation cannot wait. Combating swatting must be a real priority in Congress, and I will continue to work with all of my colleagues, on both sides of the aisle, to bring a swift end to swatting.