Filing A Police Report
As previously mentioned, the problem in prosecuting stalking cases is often proving that a victim is being stalked. A lot of victims fail to file reports, then six months later they call the police. End result - after six months of silence the victim then files and there is no documentation or evidence of prior existing problems. Each stalking case is unique in its own way. The one thing known about stalkers is that there is no way to predict how they will act. Therefore, it is extremely important to involve the police department as quickly as possible. When you start receiving harassing phone calls, report it. If you have experienced minor vandalism, report it even if the suspect is unknown.
When you make your initial call to 911 or your local police department non-emergency number advise the dispatcher the nature of your call. Let them know immediately if you need immediate assistance or if you wish to file a report only. You will be asked to give your name, address, and phone number. If you are requesting a report be taken, request that an officer be dispatched to meet with you. Often times police departments and/or officers will want to take a report over the phone. Be polite but insist that an officer meet with you in person. Avoid phone reports. If they refuse, ask to speak with a sergeant or a higher-ranking officer. Above all do not let any law enforcement officer intimidate you. What is happening to you is real and serious, no matter how minor it may seem to someone else.
A law enforcement officer will be dispatched to your home, office, or wherever the incident occurred. At that time you will give the specific facts and any documentation you have to the officer and any background information you may have relating to this report and/or case (stalkers name, physical description, place of birth, social security number, make of car/truck, license number of the vehicle(s), any normal routines and places frequently visited by your stalker). It's highly recommended that you keep a copy for your records, of the information you are turning over as evidence. Ask the officer if this report is a report only, a misdemeanor or a felony. In addition, ask the officer if he/she will be submitting this report to the prosecutor for review and possible filing of charges and what follow up action will be taken.
As hard as it is, try to stay calm and explain the facts in as much detail as possible. However, do not hide your emotions or concerns and freely express your fears. Stalkers know how you will react when you file a report and they're counting on you to be hysterical while the officer is there.
Depending on the circumstance, the officer may make contact with the offender (if known). If you're concerned that contact with the suspect will escalate the situation, make it known to the officer. Explain your concerns and if you're in fear for your life or the fear of retaliation let it be known - don't hold back. What ever you do don't downplay the seriousness no matter how minor the report may seem. Request that your concerns and fears be documented on the report.
Many law enforcement officials assume making contact with the pursuer as the obvious thing to do, but it rarely has the desired effect. Though the behavior of the pursuer may be alarming, most have not broken the law in the beginning, so the police have few options. When police make contact with the pursuer and say, in effect, "cut this out or you'll get into trouble," the pursuer intuitively knows that if they could have arrested him/her they would have arrested them. So what's the result of the contact? The greatest possible weapon in his "victim's arsenal" - sending the police after him. The cops came and went without a problem. The cops stopped by, they talked to him, and they left. Who got stronger, the victim or the pursuer? Point this out to the officer. Victims strongly feel that the first time a stalker should see police is when they show up to arrest him, not when they stop by or call to chat with him.
Be prepared, if the officer makes contact with your stalker, what your stalkers normal response will be. 90-95% of the time your stalker will portray himself as the victim by saying "she's the one who has been harassing me, following me, calling me all the time. Tell her to knock it off and leave me alone." At this point you are going to feel anger, disgust and hatred for your stalker, all of which are normal reactions but try and keep them in perspective. Remember it's one way for your stalker to get to you mentally.
No matter how minor the officer may think the incidence was, or if he/she presumes it to be a "coincidental occurrence" or that the incident has a "logical explanation," do not let the officer leave without giving you a report number. Keep in mind that in stalking cases it can take several reports ranging from annoying phone calls, harassment, criminal damage, etc. to form a stalking charge. Remember a formal stalking charge takes time and may consist of several reports. Look at it as putting a "jigsaw puzzle" together. In the end, all of the reports will fit together to complete the "puzzle." Bare in mind that it could take days, weeks or even months of documentation and reports but in the long run every report you file will pay off. Don't ever let an incidence go without a report and don't let any officer intimidate you into not filing a report.
Make the officer aware of how serious you consider the harassment or stalking to be, and that you are willing to do whatever it takes to obtain a conviction.
Word of advice - if you don't follow through and press charges you're relaying to the stalker, in no uncertain terms, that it's ok to terrorize you. No one can guarantee how long it will take to prosecute and no one can guarantee that the situation won't escalate. However, do ask yourself one question. "Do I want this to end or do I want to live the rest of my life in fear?" Once your stalker has been charged, under no circumstance back down. If you do, you could very easily be putting yourself in more danger. Face reality now - you can very rarely end stalking on your own. You can think about relocation but unless you "cover your tracks" 100% it's very easy to be found in a matter of days. (Refer to Cover Your Tracks on this website)
Before the officer leaves he will give you a brochure which is commonly referred to as "Case Reference Information." Be sure to read the brochure from cover to cover, as it contains valuable information.
Sample Only (front cover)
Case Reference Information
Report # / Date: _________________________________________________________________
Type of Report: _________________________________________________________________
( ) In person ( ) Telephone
Reporting Officer: ________________________________________________________________
Current Status. The identified section within this brochure will give you more specific information.
(A) Initial report only
(B) Citation issued;
Citation Number ______________________________
Appearance Date/Time ________________________
(C) Juvenile referred but not detained.
(D) Juvenile detained.
Detention Center: _____________________________
(E) Adult submitted to County Attorney as a felony.
(F) Adult submitted to City Prosecutor as a misdemeanor.
(G) Felony arrest.
(H) Misdemeanor arrest.
First MI Last
Date of birth: ______________________________________
Please retain this information for future police and prosecutor contact. The Pamphlet contains information to assist you in asserting your rights as a victim in this case. If you obtain further information pertinent to this case, please call (local police department number will be printed here). You will not be re-contacted by the Police Department unless an arrest is made, property is recovered, or additional information is required. It is your responsibility to notify the Police Department of any address or phone number change(s).
After completion of the initial report by the officer, a sergeant or higher-ranking officer then reviews the report.
When the investigating officer believes that a suspect has been identified and that there is sufficient evidence, the case is presented to the prosecutor for review. If the prosecutor believes that the report provides sufficient evidence to indicate that the alleged offender has committed a crime, and if in his/her judgement the case has a reasonable likelihood of conviction at a trial, the prosecutor will file a Criminal Complaint or seek an Indictment from the Grand Jury.