301 W. Franklin Street
Taylorville, IL 62568
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CHRISTIAN COUNTY SHERIFF’S OFFICE
CORRECTIONAL CENTER * 9-1-1 CENTER
301 W. FRANKLIN STREET P. O. BOX 678 • TAYLORVILLE, IL 62568
BRUCE KETTELKAMP PHONE (217) 824-4961 (C) 217-820-0758
CHIEF DEPUTY FAX (217) 824-4963 SHERIFF’S OFFICE
BRUCE ENGELING FAX (217) 824-7890
FROM THE SHERIFF’S DESK VOL 3, NR. 5
By Christian County Sheriff Bruce Kettelkamp
WHY WE MUST REPORT CRIMES COMMITTED AGAINST US
A major problem in law enforcement is getting many victims of crimes to come forward and report them. Yet all too often, that’s what happens. How someone reacts in that situation generally depends on the type of crime, whether you know the person who committed it, the support you get, or don’t get, from family, friends, police, and others you come in contact with, and experiences you have had in the past.
One factor that plays a major role in unwillingness to make a report is that many crimes were committed with the clear intention of hurting someone. In these cases, such as domestic violence, child abuse, and criminal sexual assault, the crime may be repeated against the same person with the same result. That discourages many from reporting.
Then too, many victims develop long-term problems, such as depression or anxiety-related illnesses. If a crime strikes them, they are unlikely to bring themselves to report it.
Some will experience a severe, long-lasting reaction after a crime known as posttraumatic stress disorder, or PTSD. This is a medical term used to describe a pattern of symptoms found in a person who has been traumatized. The symptoms may differ considerably from one person to another. They include nightmares, flashbacks, sleeping problems, depression and other physical and mental problems.
Any of these factors may play a role in leading victims to avoid making a report.
The problem is, of course, that if victims don’t report a crime, then it’s likely that no crime will have been shown to exist. How strong this may be can be seen in the results of an analysis by the Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Statistics. A recent study by them put the number of hate crimes actually perpetrated each year against those over the age of 12 at 250,000. That’s an increase of 25% over the number we had been told in previous years. That means that a lot of these crimes were never reported. It also showed that in the years of 2007-2011, only 35% of the actual hate crimes committed were reported. The new results indicated that 92% of all hate crimes in those 4 years were violent. By way of comparison, the percentage of all crimes overall that are violent is just 13%.
How meaningful are these results? How much more than reported are correct, actual totals? A couple of examples. Previously the entire state of Louisiana reported only 5 hate crimes were reported for a year. In Wyoming, the total report for the year was a grand total of 2. If the new numbers are correct, each of the 50 states would be expected to have more than 5,000 hate crimes a year. So, it’s especially important that those who are victims of crimes report them to law enforcement.
But many in that situation don’t understand
their obligations. How should they be reported? And to whom? What
else do they need to know? First, let’s agree that all it takes to
make a report is to call local law enforcement. But the process is
new and different to many victims. They feel they need more
information and help. So make the call, and then do the checking
The Illinois General Assembly established the Crime Victim Compensation Act in 1973. Its goal was to help reduce the financial burden imposed on victims of violent crime and their families. It can provide innocent victims and their families with up to $27,000 in financial assistance for expenses accrued as a result of violent crime. The Office of the Attorney General processes all such claims by investigating each one to determine the claimant’s eligibility.
You can get information on this program and all others by calling 1-800-228-3368 (Voice/TTY), the Crime Victims Assistance Line. You can also check their website atwww.illinoisattorneygeneral.gov for a wide range of detailed explanations. On their site, you can actually find a copy of the Illinois Crime Victims Bill of Rights. The Attorney General’s office also has explanations on such important topics as "Posttraumatic Stress Disorder – A Resource Guide to Help Victims Cope" and "Victim Impact Statements – What They Are and How They Work."
The department has a slogan: "Please call us –There is Strength in Our Number." It says if you or someone you know is a victim of crime, your call to them will provide you with the information and assistance you need. They also offer ongoing services and support to help victims cope with the emotional, physical, and financial impacts of crime. Of course, you’ll also get answers to the important questions about the programs. Questions like how soon must a victim notify law enforcement? The answer is typically within 72 hours.
The phone number listed above is also the one to use to get referrals for counseling or other services. If you or any family member becomes a victim of a crime, make sure to take the necessary action to report it. It’s an essential step if we are going to be successful in our efforts to reduce criminal activity.
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