Most college police agencies in Texas do not have guidelines for stalking cases, report shows

One in five women will experience stalking in college and are hesitant to report the incident to police — especially campus police — according to a new study from the Crime Victims’ Institute at Sam Houston University.

According to the study, fewer than 20 percent of those women who say they experienced stalking while enrolled in college reported it to the police. Of the group who did report, 56.7 percent reported their claim to local police, while only 30.3 percent decided to go to campus police.

The study also published survey results of 56 police officers from Texas colleges responding to questions related to their understanding of stalking and official procedures to address it. The answers from respondents — most of them identified as police chiefs — show that seven out of 10 did not have specific guidelines at their institution for dealing with stalking cases, and that few of them work with off-campus organizations that help victims of stalking.

According to Texas law, stalking occurs when a person engages in potentially threatening conduct directed toward another person on more than one occasion that could lead to bodily harm or damage. Stalking can lead to a third- or second-degree felony charge, depending on the circumstances.

When asked if they understood federal mandates related to gender-specific issues, the majority reported they understood how the Clery Act and Title IX would be applied to cases of stalking, while only 48 percent said they understood how to apply the Campus Sexual Violence Elimination Act to stalking cases.

The study concluded that campus police could improve their practices and approaches to dealing with stalking by consulting outside groups, and that government officials, local communities and victim support services should “consider the needs of campus police departments and ways in which campuses can collaborate with and be supported by these agencies in their efforts to effectively prevent and respond to stalking on campus.”

The study’s suggests that universities in Texas struggle to address reports of stalking. How does your institution address similar reports?

Talk with your university or college police department and ask them the same questions in the survey related to their understanding of stalking and what procedures they have in place. Likewise, it would be helpful to speak to on- and off-campus support groups, as well as local police.

And as far as the statistics go, this study does include national figures that could be beneficial to your reporting.