New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy signed a bill on Monday that makes it a crime to call 911 or file a false police report to solely intimidate someone because of race, ethnicity, religion or gender.
The bill, which took effect immediately, amends an existing law to include false incrimination and filing a false police report as a form of bias intimidation.
Violators face up to five years in prison and fines up to $15,000.
“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.
“This irresponsible misuse of our 911 system places victims in a potentially dangerous situation, and can erode trust between black and brown New Jerseyans and law enforcement.”
The new law amends current legislation barring creating false alarm — adding a possible hate crime charge when a false alarm is raised because of the color of someone’s skin, NorthJersey.com reported.
The legislation comes after a black couple in Montclair said a neighbor harassed them in June about whether they had a proper permit to install a stone patio, the outlet reported.
Fareed and Norrinda Hayat said the white woman falsely told police that she was assaulted after she had gone on their property three times in less than an hour to question him about the permit.
In New York, a Manhattan woman was charged with filing a false report in July after threatening an innocent black bird-watcher in Central Park that she was going to call the cops and “tell them there’s an African-American man threatening my life.”