Knox County Sheriff - Sheriff J.J. Jones
Family Crisis Unit
What is Stalking?
Stalking is one person’s obsessive behavior directed toward another person, behavior that causes the victim to fear for his/her safety. The stalker usually starts with annoying, obscene, or threatening phone calls or written communications within a short time after separation or divorce. The stalker may move from harassing communication to following the victim, and staking out workplaces and home. There may be acts of violence targeted at the victim’s property, pets, and the victim herself/himself. But keep in mind that human behavior cannot be accurately predicted, so it is impossible to gauge when and if a stalker will become violent. However, remember that stalking is rooted in obsessive behavior, which in and of itself is dangerous.
What Should A Stalking Victim Do?
1) Do your best to safely avoid all contact with the stalker.
2) Inform family, friends, and co-workers of what is going on regarding the stalking behavior.
3) Report the stalking to the police and follow their advice.
4) Keep a journal or log of all stalking incidents.
5) Keep all letters, packages, e-mails messages, facsimiles, and taped telephone messages received
from the stalker.
Working With Law Enforcement
The police or sheriff’s department will actively investigate matters concerning stalking. Although it is their intention to provide you with a professional investigative service, please be advised that the police or sheriff’s department cannot guarantee that your situation will be resolved, or can they guarantee your safety. Unfortunately, there is no way to predict human behavior. Suspects may be mentally disordered or may be substance abusers. A lethality assessment is always situational, based upon an evolving and changing set of factors.
Based upon available information, the police or sheriff’s department can provide you with security recommendations, which will help you make your own decisions on how to best secure your safety. Should you feel that additional security measures are required, such as a domestic violence shelter, you are certainly entitled to avail yourself of these measures.
Your cooperation by working within the criminal justice system is necessary for the proper investigation of this matter and is greatly appreciated. Please do not hesitate to contact the police or sheriff’s department should any questions or concerns arise.
Residential SecurityAll adults in the house should be trained in the use of any firearm kept for protection. The firearm should be stored safely and away from children.
Household staff/employees should have a thorough background check before employment. Institute and strictly enforce a policy that prohibits the staff from discussing family matters.
Be aware of any unusual packages, boxes, or devices found on the premises. Do not investigate strange objects; call the police or sheriff’s department immediately.
Install smoke detectors and maintain fire extinguishers on all levels of the residence.
Tape emergency contact numbers on each phone in the residence.
When leaving the residence for a period of time, have lights, television, and radio set on a timer.
Have a thorough safety plan that incorporates an emergency evacuation plan.
Purchase a dog; dogs are an inexpensive alarm system. Hint: Dogs purchased by or familiar with the stalker provide no protection!
Know the daily schedule/whereabouts of all family members.
Accompany children to school or bus stops.
Vary daily routines, such as your route to work, etc.
Require identification from all servicepeople and salespeople before permitting them to enter the residence.
Try to park in a secured area such as a garage when possible. Inform a trusted neighbor of the situation and provide her or him with a vehicle and suspect description.
Security RecommendationsBe alert at all times for suspicious persons.
Positively identify persons before opening the door -- install wide-angle viewers in primary doors.
Install a porch light at a height that discourages removal.
Install dead-bolt locks on all outside doors. If keys are missing, replace all locks.You may want to
replace all the locks regardless, assuming the stalker may have made a copy of the key(s).
Keep the garage door locked at all times. Use an electric garage-door opener.
Install floodlights around your residence that are on a timer or that have motion activation.
Trim shrubbery, especially away from doors and windows.
Keep your fuse box locked. Have flashlights, candles, and lanterns throughout the house.
Install a loud exterior alarm that can be activated from several places within the residence.
Maintain an unlisted phone number.
Any written, e-mailed, or telephone threats should be treated as legitimate and the police or sheriff’s department should be notified.
Inform trusted neighbors of any anticipated vacation and/or business trips, and arrange for someone to pick up the mail, newspapers, etc.
If residing in an apartment complex, provide the manager and security guard with a picture of the suspect.
If you are considering purchasing a gun for your protection, weigh your decision based on these cautions:
1. The offender may use it against you.
2. Most people hesitate to shoot an intruder.
3. There is potential for accidental injury, especially if you have children in the house.
(You should consider taking handgun lessons to learn proper weapon handling, safety, and
familiarity, as well as the legal aspects of deadly force. Some states may require this in order to
purchase the handgun.)
Stalking involves intentional and repeated actions that place an individual in reasonable fear for his or her safety. Stalking is a course of conduct used to maintain contact with, or exercise power and control over another individual Stalking is a crime, and you can get help.
Simply stated, whatever intentional actions he or she does with the pnrpose of putting you in fear can be considered stalking.
You are being stalked if someone is:
• Repeatedly following or spying on you
• Repeatedly calling your home and/or work
• Repeatedly sending unwanted e-mails, letters, faxes, etc.
• Leaving unwanted gifts or items for you
• Vandalizing or damaging your property
• Threatening you or someone close to you
• Repeatedly showing up for no legitimate purpose at places you go to.
We encourage victims to document all incidents of possible stalking. This includes filing a police report. Keep a log of incidents including the date, time, what happened, and the names of any witnesses. Keep e-mails. letters, faxes, items left for you, etc. Even if you decide not to pursue prosecution now, you may change your mind in the future. Documentation of every incident makes for a stronger case.