A phony 911 call in Oakdale in September 2012 was part of the impetus for Sen. Susan Kent's introduction of legislation that would create criminal charges and establish penalties against those who make emergency calls under false pretenses.
The bill, Senate File 1168, is Kent’s first to pass out of the Senate. She is a first-term DFLer from Woodbury who represents parts of Oakdale. Fellow Sen. Chuck Wiger, who also represents Oakdale, is a co-author.
Kent recalled the phony call in Oakdale, saying police could have shown up with guns drawn.
“It puts (officers) and residents at risk,” Kent told Patch.
The bill would also make it a felony to use multiple communications devices to “interfere with, overload, or otherwise prevent the emergency call center’s system from functioning properly,” according to a release.
If passed, the legislation would give prosecutors the option of charging people with a felony if the culprit intentionally reports a fake emergency with the intent of getting an emergency response, and “if an emergency responder or someone else is seriously injured or killed as a result of the emergency,” Kent said in a statement.
The House is set to hear its version of the bill on Friday, she said.
“Every time an officer responds to an emergency call it carries risk,” Kent said in the release. “Sadly, it is becoming increasingly common to attempt to get a SWAT team to break into a house. We want to make sure our emergency responders spend time and energy on real crises, not waste it chasing down false claims.”
As for the bill passed unanimously in the upper chamber, Kent said it’s “exciting.”
“It’s a great feeling to see a bill I have guided since the beginning make it through the committee process and be passed by the Senate,” she said.
Emergency response organizations—including the Metropolitan Emergency Services Board, the Minnesota Sheriff’s Association, the Minnesota Chiefs of Police Association and the Minnesota Ambulance Association—support the bill, according to the release.