HOOVER, Ala. (WIAT) – Hoover City Council unanimously approved Monday night a resolution asking state lawmakers to consider creating a bill proposing harsher punishments for people who falsely report violent crimes to police.
This is in the aftermath of the case of Carlee Russell, who allegedly faked her kidnapping in July.
The city of Hoover and Hoover Police hope to see it become a felony to falsely report a felony-level crime like kidnapping. Right now, all false police reports are classified as a misdemeanor.
“I felt like the charges should be more for this type of case,” Hoover Police Chief Nick Derzis said.
Derzis has been vocal about the need to revamp laws surrounding false police reports since the investigation into Russell’s alleged abduction.
“Not only ourselves but the hundreds and hundreds of people that emailed or called from out of the state that were a little shocked that Alabama couldn’t do more,” Derzis said.
Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle support this idea. With the next legislative session not starting until February of 2024, it gives both houses time to draft bills and iron out details.
“The most common thing I’ve heard is there needs to be a qualifier for these reports,” State Representative Mike Shaw said. “If you make a false report, not just any false report, but if it rises to a certain level, certain public expenditures, certain public alarm and concern, that it should be a felony and there should be a bigger penalty for doing that.”
The city of Hoover says lawmakers have been receptive to this possible legislation and hope to be a part of discussions when drafting starts.
“I think we’ll see a bipartisan effort to get this done. I think we will see a change and of course, it’s a little too early to predict that,” Hoover City Council President John Lyda said. “A lot of folks need to weigh in and opinions and the public will have plenty of time to do that as well.”
Shaw says he and other legislators are only in the information-gathering phase right now but says he feels optimistic this could become a new law after the next session.