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Government & Politics

New Bill Aims to Stop Fake 9-1-1 Calls

Rep Thomas West and other supporters of the bill
Jo Ingles
Statehouse News Bureau
State Rep. Thomas West (D-Canton) talks about the proposed legislation .

Two state lawmakers from northeast Ohio are among those supporting legislation to reduce what they say are racist incidents involving fake 911 calls.

State Representatives Thomas West (D-Canton) and Casey Weinstein (D-Hudson) introduced the measure.

West says people are calling police on African American Ohioans while they are doing things as simple as sitting in parked cars, making phone calls. West, an African American lawmaker, says it’s because, sometimes, when people see a person of color, they react on their own fears.

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

Darren Cooper of Hudson says he was the target of such a call. He says he was sitting in his parked car, talking on his phone when a woman who saw him called police. The woman claimed he was holding a gun, raising it repeatedly but when police arrived, they saw he was actually holding his iPhone while talking on the speaker feature.

Fellow Democratic 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 9-1-1 calls," Weinstein says.

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.

Copyright 2021 The Statehouse News Bureau. To see more, visit The Statehouse News Bureau.