Your Responsibility as a Victim
Whether your mailbox has been bashed or your neighbor is playing music that is disruptive, your responsibility goes beyond calling the police anonymously. If you want something done to correct the situation, you need to be willing to give your name, address and phone number even if all you want done is for a warning to be given. The officer may have more questions for you, or they may be confused on the location of the crime. The police do not have the authority to press charges in all crimes unless you give it to them. Not all of the pieces of the crime puzzle may be known initially. It may take a few days or weeks to get all the pieces together.
On some crimes you probably won't have much luck without the help of your neighbors. If there are no leads in your crime, if you have no clues, the police will be able to write a report that a crime has been committed, however, there is a slim chance of restitution without your neighbors' help to gather more clues. Remember, your neighbors also include the blocks around you. Similar crimes may be occurring in a six block area and unless you know how to contact those other blocks with questions you may not be able to solve your crime. Neighborhood Watch helps by establishing a block to block a phone network.
- Call the Police, have them come out and ask them politely to write a report. Not all Police officers will explain the law or your rights as a victim. Get a report number and keep a copy of the report. Only a victim can press charges, but if you witness a crime, any information you can give may solve a crime later, even if you do not know the name of the victim at the time.
- Begin a file of information. Write down all you can remember and have other witnesses do the same. Collect witnesses names, addresses and phone numbers.
- State whether or not you are willing to press charges to the Police officer. You may not be asked by the officer so take charge of the situation. The Police officer works for you. You will need to inform him of your intent. You do not have to decide then if you want to file charges.
- If you want to proceed with filing charges against someone, you need to contact the Detective assigned to your neighborhood and find out it he has your file complete with file number, perpetrator, and victim. If the perpetrator is a juvenile, they could be sent to Youth Court here in Independence if the crime is not one of a violent nature. There they will be judged and tried by peers. You will not be able to attend the hearing as this is a closed session. They will be assigned community service hours. For monetary restitution, you will n need to take their parents to civil court, or small claims court if you do not gain satisfaction speaking first with the parents. If the perpetrator is an adult, proceed with the next step.
If you do not file a report and follow through, you allow a crime to happen.