Local law enforcement agencies have a lot to be proud about regarding their reaction to a swatting call last month to Hermiston High School, but lawmakers in Salem have the opportunity to create a stronger punitive law to ensure those who commit such crimes are held accountable.
Senate Bill 664 — now in the Senate Committee on Judiciary — is designed to make it a crime to commit a terroristic act. The law proposes a maximum of five years imprisonment and/or a $125,000 fine or both.
Pendleton Police Chief Charles Byram said he believes the law would enhance penalties for crimes such as swatting, and we believe the law is long overdue.
That’s because swatting calls — such as what occurred last month at Hermiston High School — have become more common in the past 10 years and they show no signs of slowing.
The good news about the latest swatting incident was the fast and efficient reaction of our local police personnel. The bad news is these types of crimes are becoming a well-known reality across the nation.
In many swatting cases the perpetrator isn’t even in the U.S. Or they are in a location many states away from Oregon.
Would a new law in Oregon stop the swatting? Of course not. Yet what the new law would do is create a basic infrastructure where law enforcement authorities could, if they find the individual or individual responsible, prosecute.
These types of crimes are serious and troubling. Troubling because police have no alternative when they respond to one of these calls. They must move fast, with everything they have and be in a heightened state of alert.
When police are scrambling to respond to such incidents that means resources needed elsewhere are suddenly tied up.
Such calls also put our school systems in the bullseye. Even though they are always proven to be hoaxes, the sense of danger and follow on trauma can linger for many students.
The law should be reviewed carefully by lawmakers and shuffled off into the dustbin of the most recent Legislative session.
A careful appraisal of the proposed law should be completed by lawmakers and they should solicit input from as many different law enforcement agencies as possible.
The bill, if passed, won’t end swatting episodes. But it could put into place at least one tool law enforcement could use to their — and our — benefit.
Sign up for our Daily Headlines newsletter
Success! An email has been sent to with a link to confirm list signup.
Error! There was an error processing your request.
Welcome to the discussion.
Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.