New Bill Aims To Stop Fake 911 Calls

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COLUMBUS, Ohio (Statehouse News Bureau) — Some Ohio lawmakers introduced a new bill aimed at cutting down on fake 911 calls.

Rep Thomas West and other supporters of the bill
Rep Thomas West and other supporters of the bill. [Screenshot by Jo Ingles | Statehouse News Bureau]
Democratic State Rep. Thomas West (D-Canton) said people are calling police on African American Ohioans while they are doing things as simple as sitting in parked cars or making phone calls. West, an African American lawmaker, said it’s because, sometimes, they react on their own fears when people see a person of color.

“This is about fear, people having fear about why they are making calls in the first place.”

Darren Cooper of Hudson said he was the target of such a call.

He was sitting in his parked car and talking on his phone when a woman who saw him called police. The woman claimed he was holding a gun and raising it repeatedly. But when police arrived, they saw he was actually holding his iPhone while talking on the speaker feature.

Rep. Casey Weinstein (D-Hudson) represents Cooper and his community.

“It is critical that we bring awareness to this issue that affects Black Ohioans throughout this state, and that we leverage the power of education to put an end to dangerous, non-emergency uses of 911 calls,” Weinstein said.

Under the new bill, which has yet to be filed, victims of such calls could sue in civil court. And callers could be required to complete an implicit bias training program.