Department of Justice Educates Public About Stalking
Department Hosts Program, Releases Publications to Increase Awareness During National Stalking Awareness Month
WASHINGTON – To commemorate the fourth anniversary of National Stalking Awareness Month, officials from the Department of Justice's Office of Justice Programs (OJP) and Office on Violence Against Women (OVW) have joined with the National Center for Victims of Crime to host a program dedicated to educating the public, law enforcement agencies, and social service organizations about the serious dangers of stalking.
"Stalking is an unwanted intrusion into the privacy of an individual," said Assistant Attorney General Regina B. Schofield. "Increasingly, stalkers are using high-tech methods to commit their crimes, and we must have the tools to detect and prosecute them. That's why as part of our observance of Stalking Awareness Month, we are releasing two new resources that will enable law enforcement and prosecutors to better manage digital evidence and to investigate crimes involving the Internet."
At today's event, the Justice Department is releasing two new guides titled "Digital Evidence in the Courtroom: A Guide for Law Enforcement and Prosecutors" and "Investigations Involving the Internet and Computer Networks." These resources are designed to assist law enforcement and advocacy groups in collecting, handling and storing digital evidence while investigating electronic crimes, including stalking. The publications are available on the OJP Web site at www.ojp.usdoj.gov.
"This is a serious and too often under-reported crime, one compounded by advances in technology that provide stalkers with increased unwanted access to their victims, said Mary Beth Buchanan, Acting Director of the Office on Violence Against Women. "Recent studies show that four out of five stalking victims are women. No individual should have to live in fear because of unwanted attention or harassment by a stalker, and we are confident that the publications we release today will serve as important tools in the effort to combat and prosecute this disturbing crime."
Today's program also features a presentation by Sherri Peak, a victim advocate from Seattle, and Detective Debra D. McGuire of the Kirkland Police Department in Washington state. Ms. Peak and Detective McGuire discussed how Ms. Peak was stalked by her estranged husband who clandestinely placed a satellite tracking device inside her SUV and monitored her every move.
Other featured speakers at today's event included Mary Beth Buchanan, Acting Director of the Office on Violence Against Women, and Mary Lou Leary, Executive Director of the National Center for Victims of Crime, who outlined the impact of stalking on victims and the resources available to victims and their families.
The Office on Violence Against Women is a national federal office dedicated to providing federal leadership to reduce violence against women. OVW funds numerous programs throughout the nation, including the Stalking Resource Center, a component of the National Center for Victims of Crime, launched in July 2000. The dual mission of the Center is to raise national awareness of stalking and to encourage the development and implementation of multidisciplinary responses to stalking in local communities across the country.
OJP provides federal leadership in developing the nation's capacity to prevent and control crime, administer justice, and assist victims. OJP is headed by an Assistant Attorney General and comprises five component bureaus and an office: the Bureau of Justice Assistance; the Bureau of Justice Statistics; the National Institute of Justice; the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention; and the Office for Victims of Crime, as well as the Community Capacity Development Office, which incorporates the Weed and Seed strategy and OJP's American Indian and Alaska Native Affairs Desk. More information can be found at www.ojp.usdoj.gov.