CONNECTICUT - Starting Saturday, people who call in a bomb threat or any other type of threat targeting a school now face felony charges and, if convicted, up to five years of prison time.

The law was sponsored by state Sen. Tony Hwang, who says it sends a message that threats against schools will no longer be tolerated.

Before the law took effect, calling in any kind of threat to a school was a misdemeanor.

Officials say that in recent years communities across the state have experience increased instances of "swatting,” when a false threat is called in to summon a large police presence to a location.

In the past year, threats forced lockdowns and evacuations in Stamford, Easton, and other districts across the state.

Earlier this week, a man went before a judge after he made a threat against the new Sandy Hook Elementary School. The newly enacted law will not affect his case, but Hwang and other legislators hope the new penalties will be a deterrent to any future threats. 

“This bill says we will not tolerate it, we will catch you, and we will punish you to the highest level under law as a felony,” Hwang says.