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Natrona County Sheriff’s Office educates on stalking

Published: Jan. 3, 2022 at 5:15 PM CST
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CASPER, Wyo. (Wyoming News Now) - January is National Stalking Awareness Month, and the Natrona County Sheriff’s Office is working to educate the community about the crime.

“Stalking, under state statute is defined as a course of conduct with the intent to harass another person. That conduct has to evidence a continuity of purpose and it has to place that victim in fear for themselves, someone else, or their property,” said NCSO Sergeant of Investigations Taylor Courtney.

Stalking is considered a crime in all 50 states. The most common type of stalking NCSO sees is by intimate partners, current or past. Courtney stresses the importance of changing usernames and passwords to social media and other accounts and keeping that information private to avoid or prevent their use in stalking.

“If you’re trying to exit out of a relationship and a person is being controlling toward you. If they are trying to keep you from your friends or family, that should be a red flag, and you should reach out to family or friends and let them know what’s going on. Document controlling actions no matter how big or how small,” said Courtney.

Anyone can be a victim of stalking. According to the Stalking Prevention, Awareness, and Resource Center, an estimated 1 in 6 women and 1 in 17 men will experience stalking in their life. The majority of victims are stalked by someone they know.

“Stalking these days typically does not look like it used to, you imagine somebody peeping into windows at night or following you somewhere, and although following you somewhere, placing you under surveillance, things like that are listed in the statute, today’s age has changed. We see stalking happening with technology, GPS devices being attached to vehicles, hacking into electronic accounts, and then using your cellphone to track you through your account,” said Courtney.

If you believe you are being stalked NCSO encourages you to contact law enforcement so they can help figure out if the behavior is criminal. Even if it is not criminal stalking, a protection order can be issued.

Criminal stalking in Wyoming requires a course of conduct, two or more events that include harassment. Harassment may be threats to life, property, or family members, non-consensual physical conduct, vandalism, or other similar behaviors. These should be documented to help prove criminal stalking.

If stalking is happening, NCSO can assist by conducting an arrest, they may also connect the victim with victim services to help them get a protection order. There are three types of protection orders: stalking, sexual assault, and domestic violence. If a person breaks the protection order they can be arrested. According to Courtney, if a stalker commits a new course of conduct while a protection order is in place, it will be elevated to a felony.

“There’s no requirement that says a person has to say ‘no’ but it really shows a mindset for where a person is at if they say no. Then, when a stalker is obsessive that is a huge red flag, and the victim should contact law enforcement so there can be intervention either by law enforcement or relief through the court system in the form of a protection order,” said Courtney.

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