New York gets tougher on community center bomb threats

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has signed into law new penalties for those who make bomb threats against community centers.

The Democratic governor approved the legislation Monday. It was passed by the state Legislature earlier this year in response to a string of bomb threats called into Jewish Community Centers across the country.

Citing those bomb threats and recent violence by white supremacists in Charlottesville, Virginia, Cuomo said it is vital for New York to stand against hate crimes.

"These despicable acts spread fear and terror across entire communities, and by signing this measure, we will give law enforcement more tools to prosecute hatemongers and treat these crimes with the seriousness they deserve," Cuomo said in a statement announcing the signing of the bill. "The horrific events in Charlottesville this weekend demonstrate that now, more than ever, we must stand united against bias and hate in all of its forms."

The new law specifically adds "community centers" to a list of places covered by an existing statute setting penalties for bomb threats that already singled out locations such as schools and transportation facilities. The change ensures that someone convicted of making a bomb threat against a community center can, at minimum, face a sentence of up to a year in jail.

Cuomo says the change will help prosecute those seeking to "spread fear and terror."