Dear Law Enforcement,
We need to talk about investigating Nonconsensual Pornography, Image Abuse, and Revenge Porn.
You must take this more seriously. That’s not to say there aren’t some agencies or even some productive members of your teams that do investigate, but as a whole, you’re not putting enough effort into these cases.
- You need to allocate resources to your cybercrime units.
- You need to train your dispatchers and operators that you DO investigate cybercrimes. (stop sending people to the FBI, they don’t work with adult cases.)
- You need to focus and put time into these cases.
It’s 2020, and things aren’t going to get less intertwined with technology; too many things are already going without attention, one of those being Nonconsensual Pornography (NCP).
You are the first line of defense for a victim of NCP. In a world where people blame victims who are too scared or embarrassed to talk about what’s going on, you need to be there and willing to help.
Stop telling victims they shouldn’t have shared the intimate photos with the person they shared them with, we know, we learned the hard way. Retrospect doesn’t take back the crime that was committed, and by the way, sharing private photos with your partner is not a crime. Sharing them without consent is.
It would be best if you treated those who call to report cyber crimes the way you would treat someone calling to report any other crime. Let’s be honest, though; ya’ll need a little help in those other divisions too. It’s time to reassess your work.
When someone calls to report a crime taking place, they aren’t doing it for fun. They’re doing it because they’re hurt, scared, and want to prevent this crime, whatever it is, from happening again. Your job is to get to the bottom of what happened, collect evidence, take the report, and bring it to Lady Justice’s bench. Sometimes it’s more complicated than you’d prefer, but just because it is hard doesn’t mean it doesn’t deserve your attention, that means without you, the victim has even less of a chance of getting justice or being protected.
It is not your job to judge someone for doing something you wouldn’t do. It would help if you exercised compassionate objectivity.
So let’s go over some things you should do when someone reports Nonconsensual Pornography, Image Abuse, or Revenge Porn.
- Hold your judgments until you’re off the clock (even then, keep them to yourself.)
- Search for a statute that fits if one is not provided to you by the victim/reporter.
- Be compassionate and express empathy.
- Ask if the reporter knows who committed the crime. If not, see number 5.
- Collect available evidence (BEFORE TALKING TO THE POI [person of interest])
- Issue subpoenas to collect identifying information.
- Collect devices (you have probable cause enough for a warrant).
- Make sure you have all the available evidence needed.
- Now you can talk to the POI because you already have collected the evidence, and they do not have a chance to tamper with it. But, be wary. If the victim expresses fear of being harmed, take that seriously, and apply necessary precautions, such as helping the victim get an order of protection and/or no-contact order.
- Remember. You are an advocate for the law and those affected by someone breaking the law.
- And finally, remember, you have the burden of investigating a crime. Even if that crime doesn’t seem serious to you personally, if it is a law that has been broken, you have a duty to investigate it.
I don’t mean to come off cross; there are some incredible officers and investigators out there. I know resources can be limited, but you need to assess your team, and if you don’t have the resources to help victims, something is very wrong, and it needs to be remedied.
This comes from a woman who spent over a year investigating her own victimization. With far fewer resources than you have to offer, only to be told it’s not enough, to be told I could see true justice if only law enforcement had done this or that. This is coming from a woman who is scared her abuser will walk free, knowing she’s not the only one he’s harmed. This is coming from a woman who wants to help you help our communities.
So, let’s do this. Let’s make a change.