STALKING THE STALKER
The October 2000 issue of The Police Chief, the official publication of the International Association of Chiefs of Police features the results of a survey conducted by the Police
Foundation on Stalking offenses. That survey said:
"The lack of knowledge and the divergence among officer's responses suggests that much confusion exists about stalking, demonstrating a need for
basic police training on the crime. Such training should make officers aware of the law and procedures relating to stalking and also show them how to recognize the crime and how to utilize the portfolio of
responses available to them."
The NYPD has again taken the lead in combating domestic
violence. A pilot program called "The Anti-Stalking Initiative" will begin next week. A seminar was held at the Police Academy and I attended through the assistance of Deputy
Inspector Vincent DeMarino, Commanding Officer of the Domestic Violence Unit, NYPD and of Sergeant Joseph A. Piraino, Office of the Deputy Commissioner of Operations, Technical Assistance and Response Unit (TARU).
The pilot program begins in SATCOM/Brooklyn North. (SATCOM or Strategic and Tactical Command) The seminar was attended by the various detective squad commanders and
members who will be charged with putting the initiative into practice.
Lucia Davis-Raiford, Director, Domestic Violence Unit of the NYPD gave the opening remarks and the rational for the initiative. The Police Commissioner Bernard B. Kerik, who gave
the keynote speech to the assembly, stressed the importance of the seminar. The new statutes against Stalking were reviewed by Diedre Bialo-Padin, Chief, Domestic Violence Bureau, Kings
County District Attorney. She emphasized the fact that in many homicide cases, the victims had been stalked prior to their deaths. The correlation between stalking of victims and assaults
and homicides no longer can be ignored.
The new Penal Law statutes against Stalking range from a Class B Misdemeanor (120.45 PL) to a Class D Felony (120.60 PL).
The new law enables the police to track predators who stalk their victims and take the necessary action to prevent victims from being harmed. The full cooperation of the district attorney
and the technical assistance of the NYPD will be brought into play to ensure that this initiative succeeds.
Prevention of homicides is much more preferable to clearing homicide cases by traditional means. SATCOM is the obvious Borough to employ this initiative. The SATCOM Commanding Officer has
the unity of command needed to bring all forces to bear on this program. Stalkers can be identified and monitored just as robbery patterns and drug offenses can be tracked. It has been found that
stalkers are recidivists. The tried and true principles of Compstat apply here.
The technical help of the Technical Assistance and Response Unit (TARU) will provide the necessary backup to this initiative. Investigations involving
telephonic and other communications such as emails, and cellular phones require an expertise that TARU will bring to the program. Detectives will be able to obtain this
valuable assistance in tracking and identifying stalkers who use these communications methods to stalk their victims. In effect, the police will begin to STALK THE STALKER.
It is said the stalkers are into power and control. When they get their first taste of this new initiative, they will get to know just how their victims feel when they are stalked.
The police will be actively stalking them.
We will probably never know how many homicides are prevented by this initiative. I am sure that the
success of this pilot program will lead to its implementation throughout the City of New York.
It is an acknowledged fact that domestic violence and stalking frequently spill over into the workplace.
Stalkers and abusive partners in domestic violence use the employment of their victims to retaliate or exercise fear and control over them. A recent problem has arisen in the investigation and prevention
of violence in the workplace. The Federal Trade Commission issued a staff advisory letter to one Judi
Vail (the 1999 Vail Opinion) stating that employers using "outside organizations" to conduct sexual
harassment investigations are subject to the Fair Credit Reporting Act. The 1999 Vail Opinion opined that an outside organization that receives a fee for investigating allegations of sexual harassment for an
employer may be considered a "consumer reporting agency", and that both the employer and the
"consumer reporting agency" are covered by the Fair Credit Reporting Act's disclosure requirements.
The rationale in the opinion letter could be extended to virtually any investigation by a law firm or other outside agent into any type of employee misconduct.
In every investigation that an employer initiates to deal with workplace violence, sexual harassment, stalking, or any other criminal conduct, if outside investigators are used, the employer must reveal to
the abuser, harasser, stalker, or other criminal, every detail of the allegations from the very outset of the investigation. The identity of the complainants and victims must be given to the alleged offender.
This violates every rule of investigatory procedure. As a result of the FTC ruling, employers are
handcuffed. Full disclosure must be given in every instance. The police investigating stalking in the workplace may also be adversely affected by this ruling.
The Vail Opinion has resulted in many problems for employers who want to keep their workplace safe for their employees and for law enforcement. Legislation has been drafted by Congressman Pete
Sessions, (D-Texas) to rectify this problem. H.R. 3408, the Fair Credit Reporting Amendment Act of 1999 (introduced in the House of Representatives) is designed to correct this. Congresswoman Sue
Kelly, 19th Congressional District of New York is a co-sponsor of this important bill.
Copyright © 2000 Edward D. Reuss
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