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Law Enforcement and Stalking

NCJ Number
Date Published
July 2021

This brief video is an instructional lecture on the issues that arise when a responding law enforcement officer interacts with a complainant who believes she/he has been victimized by the stalking behavior of a former intimate partner. 


Law enforcement becomes involved when a person complains she/he has been injured by a person who has broken a particular law. Law enforcement officers make an arrest when there is sufficient evidence that a complainant has been injured by the outlawed behavior of a particular person. Although stalking may involve an observable physical injury or property damage inflicted by an ex-partner, the main injury may be psychological harm, distress, or diminishment of quality of life under the constant scrutiny and harassment of an ex-partner. Thus, elusive proof of harm becomes an issue, along with the issue of proving that to a reasonable person the stalking behavior is the cause of the psychological harm. Police officers must decide whether there is probable cause to believe the injury was caused by unlawful stalking behavior and that it was caused by the ex-partner identified by the victim and/or witnesses.

Date Published: July 22, 2021