If you have been the target of express or implied threats, you may be feeling intimidated, frightened, angry and confused. Many individuals are reluctant to file official reports of threats to the authorities for various reasons. They may feel intimidated by law enforcement or they may believe that threats by themselves aren't serious enough to report to the police.
However, reporting threats to local law enforcement officials is a good idea for a number of reasons. Whether the threat is verbal, written or implied through physical intimidation or the brandishing of weapons, it is potentially a criminal act. Reporting threats to the appropriate authorities produces a number of benefits for the person threatened, law enforcement and the public at large.
Suppressing the Threat and Risk of Violence
Filing a police report may help alleviate the threat's potential to inflict trauma, economic loss and physical injury. If the circumstances of the threat warrant investigation, the police may speak with the person or persons making the threat. Mere contact with authorities is often enough to discourage or put a stop to the threatening behavior.
In addition, the police may be able to give the victim of the threat ideas on how to avoid future threats and confrontations with the same people. Often the mere knowledge that authorities are aware of the situation is enough to convince the person issuing the threats to move on. Equipping yourself with additional information on how best to protect yourself, your family and your property can also serve as a deterrent to future threats or criminal behavior.
Creating a Record of the Threat
If the person making the threat follows through on that threat with criminal acts against the targeted individual, the police will already be familiar with the case and have a record of both the intent and the threat. This may help speed up the investigative and legal process by giving law enforcement somewhere to start an investigation in the event that the victim isn't able to participate in the process due to injury or death. It may also assist in providing possible motives, timelines and witnesses for use in prosecuting the offender.
Additionally, creating an official record of the threat can assist law enforcement in the future. Even if the person making the threats never contacts the targeted individual again, he or she could well become a threat to another person. If the local law enforcement agency knows that the suspect has made similar threats in the past, it is more likely to treat future threats more seriously. As a result, violent crimes may be stopped before they occur and inflict trauma on future victims.
Maintaining Public Safety
Suspected threats against public safety should be taken seriously and reported to police. This includes bomb threats, terrorist attacks or any other type of threat involving the public. The police can determine if the threat is serious or not and prevent action being taken that will harm the public. Reporting threats against public safety can save lives and prevent destruction of public property and infrastructure.
If the threats are made or received in the workplace environment, creating an official record of the threats can help authorities and company management investigate the likelihood of a future event of workplace violence. Armed with this information, management can then ensure all reasonable steps have been taken to protect workers and the public in the event the person making the threats decides to act violently on those threats.
Recovery of Property Damage Costs
Filing a police report for a threat may assist in recovering costs associated with damage to the targeted individual's property. Authorities may be able to use the report as evidence in civil lawsuits against the person who made the threat and inflicted the damage to the property. The police report may also be included in the information that the insurance company uses when the victim makes a claim for property damage.
Annie Sisk is a freelance writer who lives in upstate New York. She holds a B.A. in Speech from Catawba College and a J.D. from USC. She has written extensively for publications and websites in the business, management and legal fields.