It has been our experience that once a victim of stalking gets to us they have been traumatized over a protracted period of time. I get emails from victims around the world that complain that law the law enforcement personnel that they have contacted tells them there is nothing they can do, or the classic one is “until he (the Stalker) commits a crime, there is nothing they can do. Keep in mind there are countries that do not have stalking laws; however, this shouldn’t be happening in those that do. One of the primary reasons we teach law enforcement is to get them up to speed on how to actually investigate a stalking case. Having been in full-time law enforcement for 33+ years I can honestly say that most cops want to help; some just don’t have the training necessary to do what they need to. Also keep in mind that police departments lead from the top. If domestic violence and/or stalking is considered a priority then it will be. The department I came from treats these crimes as something that should be worked. The only problem is that since I left not a great deal of training has transpired considering these issues, primarily stalking. Therefore, I am called in to teach the new detective(s) on how best to work stalkers. I have fun doing it so as long as I can I will. Obviously, there are people who claim to be stalked, but actually are not. That is something the law enforcement entity that is being contacted has to sort through. (Enough of this, now down to the topic at hand.)
In our stalking protocol when a victim comes to us we do the following:
- We conduct a threat assessment interview. This interview is video tape recorded for a couple of reasons. One so that we have something to review at a later time so that we can better write our crime report. Second, so that the district attorney can review how the victim responds to questions. What type of emotions, he or she exhibits, etc. During this interview we have the victim lay out in chronological fashion all the issues she has been experiencing with the potential stalker. Once she or he has gone through their story, we go back over each of the incidents gathering more information. We also ask specific questions designed to better fact find. Some of these questions become extremely emotional for the victim. This interview also allows us to better determine the stalker’s Lethality Quotient. In other words is it high or low. If it is low we can take our time in developing the case. If it is high and the victim or her family members are at risk for injury or death, we step up our investigation so that we can eliminate the threat. [For example, we would immediately get a restraining order and serve it directly on the stalker so that he or she knew we were in the picture.] If we had a crime other than stalking that we could arrest for we would. If the victim and or her children needed a safe environment we would utilize our Domestic Violence group to have the victim placed in a shelter. We would also have our assigned social worker get involved in the process.
- Once we determined that a stalking has in fact transpired, we ask the victim to bring in any and all things that the stalker has left or sent her. These would include any taped recorded phone messages, emails, etc. We would also notify the victim that he or she must stop any consensual contact with the stalker. The D.A. needs to have a point where this takes place in order to prosecute for stalking.
- We then develop a victim profile. In the profile we have a form that contains all their information concerning their driver’s license, social security, log in all marks, scars or tattoos. We then photograph and fingerprint them. The photos we take, are not just head-shots, but full up and down body shots. We do the same with their children. The reason is that if something (God forbid) would happen to them such as an abduction, we have very good and current photos of them. Then we photograph any and all vehicles that they drive or routinely have access to. Why? Because if we have to do a television broadcast if a kidnap takes place; we want to put out pictures of the exact car that they were in or had access to at the time of the incident. Not a car that looks similar to this or that one. Most cars and somewhat unique as to types of wheels, paint color, dents, or stickers on same.
- If our threat assessment evaluation develops lethality issues that cause us to feel the stalker may in fact attempt to forcibly enter the victim’s residence; we would send our CSI (Crime Scene Investigators) people to her home. They would photograph/video tape the interior and map the interior. Why? Because if we had to send our SWAT or Metro Team detectives in to perform a rescue, we would want to know what the interior looked like.
- If our investigation turns up that there has been sexual predation done on children by the stalker, we would set up a specialized interview with our child protective service group which include a forensic nurse capable of doing comprehensive physical exams, along with a district attorney who specializes in these cases.
- We would then assign a case worker to assist the victim in getting any kind of court order they would need as well as setting up his or her court appearances, providing transportation and showing up to any court ordered hearing to assist them.
- We would then follow the victim’s case throughout the court system. [As in all of these blog entries more information available on Antidote For A Stalker, Amazon.]