Several Miami police officers spent the Thursday morning in training to recognize and respond to stalking calls.
Authorities were educated on the motives of stalking, assessing the threat, how to collect evidence for prosecution and new laws geared at protecting the victims.
“The instructor gave examples of different cases Oklahoma City officers have dealt with,” Detective Glenn Johnston said. “In one instance, a woman reported to officers that her estranged boyfriend kept driving by her house. Under former stalking laws, officers didn't have probable cause to take action against the stalker. Now we can file a report that will at least show a paper trail.”
Unfortunately in the case described, officers were not able to prevent an attack. Family members reported the woman missing a few days later and authorities found the woman shot to death in her estranged boyfriend's car. A few hundred feet away, the boyfriend was found dead from a self-inflicted gun shot wound.
“There had only been one complaint made before he killed her,” Johnston said.
According to the Council on Law Enforcement Training, recognizing the motive and severity of the threat is essential in protecting the victim.
Stalking is broken up into the following categories as defined by law enforcement officials.
It is the most common type of stalking. The stalker and victim were once a couple and the stalking sometimes results from the stalker's feelings that the victim has mistreated him or her. The stalking frequently begins before a breakup.
The stalker is a stranger or casual acquaintance to the victim, but is obsessed and begins a campaign of harassment to make the victim aware of his or her existence.
The stalker falsely believes that the victim is in love with him or her and that an external obstacle interferes with their ability to be together. The stalker could also pose a great risk to those close to the victim.
False victimization is extremely rare and involves someone who consciously or subconsciously wants to play the role of victim. He or she may make up a complex tale, claiming to be a stalking victim. In such cases, the would-be victim is sometimes the actual stalker and the alleged offender is the real victim.
During a training offered Thursday in Miami, police officers learned how to collect evidence that can produce a detailed profile and assess the severity of the threat.
“Under new laws, the first incident of stalking is a misdemeanor, the second a felony,” Miami Police Chief Gary Anderson said. “However, if there is a protective order in place, the first instance can be a felony.”