Stalking: Reporting to Law Enforcement
Keep a record of every incident – major or minor – because this supports your story. Record-keeping will also help you understand these patterns, particularly related to small, seemingly innocuous events, such as knocked-over trash cans, or objects being moved in subtle ways that set off your internal alarms. You have the right to report each incident to the police, even if no crime was committed. Your record will be important in showing the stalker’s pattern of behavior. Police incident reports are an official record of behavior for stalking charges.
You also have the right to obtain a protective order. Protective orders mandate arrests and may help prosecute and incarcerate the stalker. However, it is important to keep in mind that a protective order – whether a no-trespass order, a stalking protective order or domestic violence protective order – is only a piece of paper, and a tool for the criminal justice system. It cannot fully protect you from harm. It is important to use resources such as the Title IX Office, ODOS, the Women’s Center, SARA and SHE to develop a safety plan (explained and listed in the Student Resource Guide).
Stalking Tracking Form
The Stalking Tracking Form is available for you to download. It can allow you to keep an accurate record of incidents, the prevention steps taken, and the identity of the stalker so that you can take preventative or legal action.
>> Download the form in .pdf format
Making First Contact with Law Enforcement
Generally, there are three ways to make contact with a law enforcement officer to make a report:
- At your location: The officer arrives at your residence or wherever you are, in response to an emergency call. In this case, the officer's first responsibility is to provide aid to you as a crime victim. This may mean driving you to the emergency room for medical treatment (if you aren't seriously hurt), or simply interviewing you there.
- At the hospital: A second scenario is when an officer is called to the emergency room in response to a call from the medical staff. In this case, the initial interview will occur in a private room at the hospital.
- At the precinct: You may go to the police department when you are ready to make a report or statement. You can bring support persons, such as a SARA or SHE advocate, with you. The Title IX Office can assist you in arranging transportation or identifying the correct police department.
The responding officer will sit with you and ask you detailed questions about the pattern of events that have occurred, where contacts or sightings have been made, when the stalker has contacted you, and how the stalking has manifested. Many of the questions may feel invasive or difficult to answer. Well-trained officers understand how difficult it is to answer these questions, but if they are to aid in an investigation, they need as much detail as possible. Having a tracking form, records of past communications, and information about any other witnesses will help the officer. It might be helpful to have a knowledgeable advocate, such as a SARA companion, sit with you to provide support and to intervene in the event that the officer is in any way unprofessional. You may also bring a lawyer with you to the interview.
Once you have given a report to a police officer, the case is assigned to an investigator. In Charlottesville and Albemarle County, you will also be contacted by a Victim-Witness Coordinator who will help guide you through the process, make you aware of your rights, and accompany you to court.
For more information, see the Department of Criminal Justice’s Stalking Guide for Victims.