Schumer wants tougher prison sentences for school bomb threats


Wallkill Town Police Chief Robert Hertman, left, with Schumer
at Maple Hill
Elementary School on Monday

TOWN OF WALLKILL – U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) met with school
officials and local law enforcement officers Monday to discuss the growing
issue of “swatting” and to advocate for new legislation that
would increase penalties for those who call in bomb scares.

Schumer spoke outside Maple Hill Elementary School, one of the two Middletown
schools that suffered consecutive “swatting” attacks over a
two-day period.

Students from each school lost hours of classroom time and one school,
Monhagen Middle School, even had 1,300 of their students evacuated.

Schumer has come out against the act of “swatting” in the past
but, now has specific legislation focused on deterring and punishing “swatters”
for the havoc they reek on unsuspecting schools.

“What the legislation does is three things. First, it tightens up
the law as to making ‘swatting’ itself a federal crime, as opposed to
trying to stick it into some other crime. It increases the penalty to
eight years,” said Schumer.

“It also says that, if you do ‘swatting,’ you’re going to pay the
cost to the Town of Wallkill or the County of Orange. Let’s say that it
costs $30,000 to send all the police cars over, the SWAT teams, the K-9
dogs because they threatened a bomb threat; all of that would have to
be repaid by the guy who did it and finally, we make it a crime to disguise
your phone number and call the police,” he said.

Schumer’s legislation was well received by Middletown officials and law
enforcement. Dr. Kenneth Eastman, superintendent of Middletown City School
District said, “The Middletown City School District strongly supports
Senator Schumer’s legislation that would toughen penalties for ‘swatting’
crimes and require perpetrators to repay police for the costs.”

Schumer said that a major part of the ‘swatting’ issue is criminals using
online services to call landlines via computer, giving them the ability
to hide their caller ID information. The new legislation will update the
Truth In Caller ID Act of 2009 and make caller ID masking via computer
illegal. With these strengthened laws, Schumer is hoping to drastically
decrease this act which is costly and terrifying to communities, their
residents and their children.