A false 911 call in New Jersey could lead to more jail time if there's bias

Gov. Phil Murphy signed the legislation on Monday.

(CNN)Making a false 911 call based on someone's race is now a crime in New Jersey.

Gov. Phil Murphy signed legislation Monday making it a crime to place such a call with the goal of intimidating someone based on race or another protected class, such as religion or gender.
The measure creates a category for false police reports and incrimination in the state's laws against bias intimidation.
      "Using the threat of a 911 call or police report as an intimidation tactic against people of color is an unacceptable, abhorrent form of discrimination," Murphy said in a statement. "Individuals who choose to weaponize this form of intimidation should held be accountable to the fullest extent of the law."
        While false police reports have long been illegal in New Jersey, the law now provides for higher penalties when doing so is for the purpose of intimidation, based on race, religion or gender, among other categories.
          The move comes amid a growing recognition by lawmakers of the use of 911 calls to threaten or intimidate people of color
          A similar law was passed in Washington state earlier this year, while Oregon recently passed a law that opens individuals up to civil suits for biased 911 calls. Legislation is currently being considered in California, and there have been efforts at the state and local levels in Michigan. There was a similar proposal in New York in 2018, and the state opened up such calls to civil action in June.
          In the most recent high-profile story of a suspect 911 call, a white woman called New York City police on a black man after he asked her to put her dog on a leash while in the city's Central Park. The woman was charged with filing a false report.
            Nationwide, 911 calls on people of color otherwise minding their own business continue to be a common occurrence.
            In New Jersey, someone found guilty of knowingly placing a racist or otherwise-biased 911 call for the purposes of intimidation will be subject to three to five years in prison, a fine of up to $15,000, or both. That's a higher penalty for a violation that does not meet such circumstances.