Dealing with harassing texts can be a distressing experience, and individuals often wonder what can the police do about harassing texts. Law enforcement’s response to cyberbullying, internet harassment, and text-based harassment varies across different jurisdictions. Some local police departments may still be learning how to effectively address these issues due to the evolving nature of online crimes and the lack of specific jurisdiction in cyberspace.
This article is written with findings from our own experience, working with victims and law enforcement on a daily basis to identify the individual responsible for the harassing texts. We will explain the most common police responses to harassing texts, how to increase the chance for the police to investigate the texts, and alternative solutions for individuals seeking assistance.
Police Response to Harassing Texts
Law enforcement agencies tend to prioritize cases involving harassing texts that pose a risk to health, safety, or welfare. If the content of the texts causes significant stress, anxiety, or affects your overall well-being, it is important to report the issue to the police. Each person’s threshold for distress may vary, and it is essential to trust your instincts and seek assistance if you feel overwhelmed or unsafe.
When deciding whether to report harassing texts, there are three key aspects to consider: health, safety, and welfare.
Health: If the texts are causing severe stress, anxiety, or adversely affecting your mental and emotional well-being, it is crucial to report the issue to the police.
Safety: If the texts make you feel unsafe or lead you to alter your daily routines out of fear for personal safety, it is essential to inform the police about your concerns. If you received threats of violence, the police is more likely to investigate.
Welfare: Harassing texts that impact your career, job, or livelihood, including sexually offensive texts from co-workers, may warrant filing a report. Additionally, if you have a genuine fear of retaliation, it is important to consult with the police for guidance.
What Can the Police do about Harassing Texts
If you receive the help of the police, what can the police do about harassing texts? In cases where the police determine that intervention is necessary, they may request telephone records from mobile phone companies to trace the source of the harassing texts and reveal the identity of the antagonist. However, obtaining these records typically requires legal permission, and the process can take time. It is important to be prepared for potential delays during this investigative phase.
Some local police offices don’t have much experience investigating cyber related harassment, and are unsure on how to ask for the information required to identify the anonymous offender. We prepare subpoenas for the police and lawyers, because we know exactly what to ask for and how to ask for it to avoid ambiguities, deficiencies, and resistance/maneuvering from the witness.
How to Increase the Chance of the Police Investigating Harassing Texts
When reporting harassing text messages to the police, a clear and concise approach can help increase the likelihood of their investigation. Follow these tips to increase the chances of the police taking your complaint seriously:
Use concise and objective language: Present your case in a straightforward and factual manner, avoiding emotional language. Instead of resorting to name-calling or accusations, stick to the facts and let the evidence speak for itself. Explain your case without emotions and name-calling.
Provide relevant details: Include key information in your report to help the police understand the severity and ongoing nature of the harassment. Specify the name of the harasser, the duration of the harassment (e.g., “since Feb 15, 2021”), the number of times you’ve requested them to stop, and how the harassment has escalated over time.
Highlight safety concerns: Clearly express any fears or concerns for your safety and the safety of your family. This information emphasizes the urgency and potential risk associated with the harassment, prompting the police to prioritize the investigation.
Document evidence: Make it known that you have collected evidence of the harassment and are willing to provide it for their review. This demonstrates your proactive approach and strengthens the case by offering tangible proof of the harassment. Save the messages, make screenshots, make a timeline of the phone numbers, dates, and other relevant information.
Alternative Solutions: Cyber Investigation Services
If your local police decide not to investigate the harassing texts, or if you find they are not equipped to handle digital harassment cases effectively, engaging the services of cyber investigators may be an alternative solution. Cyber investigators specialize in identifying individuals behind harassing texts and can provide valuable support in gathering evidence and building a strong case.