The Assembly unanimously approved a bill that would increase the penalty for swatting as Monmouth County law enforcement is willing to pay for information leading to the arrest of those who make the calls.

Anxious parents outside the Indian Hill School in Holmdel in May (Monmouth County Prosecutor's Office)

The bill, which now moves onto the Senate, would make swatting a second-degree offense with a jail sentence of 10 years along with a fine of $195.000. The caller would also be responsible for cost costs incurred by the large response to such calls.

Meanwhile, following numerous threats made to schools, malls and hospitals over the past several months, Monmouth County Crime Stoppers is offering a $5,000 reward for information leading to the identification, arrest and prosecution of anyone involved in these False Public Alarm Incidents. There were 8 reported incidents across New Jersey on Monday according to News 12 New Jersey.

"While these 'swatters' think it is fun to cause chaos in our community, in reality they threaten the safety of our citizens, responding police officers and fire fighters. It has to stop," reads a statement from Crime Stoppers, which is run by both the Monmouth County Sheriff's Department and Prosecutor's Office.

Denville Police Chief Christopher Wagner, president-elect of the New Jersey Association of Chiefs of Police said when "swatting" calls are received, police cannot afford to risk not responding, even though they may appear to be hoaxes as multiple false alarms are reported.

"We have to treat all of them like they're real, and that requires a full-on response with additional calls for assistance frequently going out to the county sheriff's office, the prosecutor's office and the State Police as well as EMS, the fire department and even the bomb squad," Wagner said.

 

David Matthau and the Associated Press contributed to this report