It could soon be a criminal offense to falsely pull an active shooter alarm with a bill being passed through the Michigan legislature.
House Bill 4698 would prohibit a person from “knowingly and willfully” raising a false active shooter alarm in a public space.
In testimony during a Judiciary committee meeting last Spring, bill sponsor Rep. Thomas Albert, R-Lowell, said that this piece of legislation would mirror penalties already in place for falsely pulling a fire alarm.
“Falsely pulling an active shooter alarm is not only disruptive, it can cause great panic,” Albert said.
A person who violates this proposed law would be guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment for up to one year and a maximum fine of $1,000.
An “active shooter alarm” is an alarm system that is designed to alert people of an active shooter on or near the premises.
The alarm system is visibly similar to a fire alarm except it’s blue in color. It would activate locks on doors, inform local law enforcement of the active shooter, flash a blue light or broadcast a message indicating in the area an active shooter may be present.
These alarms are emerging in places like school districts, but you won’t see one in every district throughout the state.
In 2019, police responded to Bloomfield Hills High School after a BluePoint active shooter alarm was activated, although no threat was detected by first responders. The reason behind the incident was never reported, but did cause the approximately 1,800 students within the school building to either run or shelter in place, according to Albert’s testimony.
“It’s a pretty big deal to pull one of these,” Albert said.
New misdemeanor arrests and convictions under the bill could increase resource demands on law enforcement, court systems, community supervision and jails, as stated by the Senate Fiscal Analysis. However, it is unknown how many people could potentially be prosecuted under the bill.
Any additional revenue from imposed fines would go to local libraries.
The legislation passed the House 104-4 last year before passing the Senate 31-7 on June 30.
Once the House enrolls the bill, it will be sent to Governor Gretchen Whitmer to potentially be signed into law. The bill would take effect 90 days after its enactment.