How To Effectively Follow Up – Scams and the Local Police

(Last Updated On: February 12, 2023)

How To Effectively Follow Up

Scams and the Local Police

Guiding Victims to Positive Outcomes with Their Local Police

Law Enforcement – A SCARS Insight

Following Up With The Police After Your File The Report

Scams and the Local Police

Often, in the first hours, days, or weeks after a crime has been reported, you may feel lost or confused about what happens next. You may expect the officer to call and keep you informed about the case. Normally this will happen ONLY if there is a major development – the local police do NOT comment about every detail of an investigation – assuming there is an investigation.

Unfortunately, most victims are very ignorant about the real processes that the police follow and often have very unrealistic expectations about what the police are going to do!

What Are The Basics Of Fair & Just Policing

Global society has established basic standards for policing accountability worldwide

Key elements of an effective police accountability system include:

  • Legislation (in line with international human rights law) specifying the functions and powers of the local police
  • Practical instructions based on the legislation that reflects both the spirit and
    the letter of the law
  • Opportunities for the public to voice their concerns
  • Policies that set priorities on how to deploy local police capacity
  • Adequate police training, both basic and ongoing
  • Equipment that is adequate for prescribed local police functions
  • Proper reporting procedures and facilities
  • Adequate supervision that supports officers in carrying out their duties
    professionally and reporting these correctly
  • A working culture that promotes transparency and evaluation
  • Monitoring of police actions and operations by both local police leadership and
    external organs
  • Complaints procedures, both for making complaints to the local police directly and
    to independent bodies
  • Fair and effective procedures and policies on how to deal with misconduct,
    including both disciplinary and criminal codes, adequate investigative capacity,
    procedures for punishment and appeal procedures

To learn more about these you can view the United Nations Handbook on police accountability, oversight, and integrity

How The Case Develops Involving Scams And The Local Police

Unless there are unusual circumstances, the case will usually be processed as follows:

The Report: The officer will take the information from you needed to file a police report. The Officer will do as much follow-up as possible during his/her tour of duty, depending on the level of calls for service.

During his/her shift, the officer will enter all of the information gathered on your incident in the Department computer system. The computer assigns an incident number, which identifies your case.

Getting Support: When you give your statement for the report, you should always ask if there is a victims’ assistance or victims’ advocate on staff or available. Many larger local police departments have them. In some jurisdictions, they are part of the District Attorney or Prosecutor’s office. They can be very helpful to answer your questions about what happens next, how to follow up, and what benefits or services may be available to. If there is not one at the local level, then contact the State Attorney or Provincial Prosecutor’s office as they will have one.

Initial Review: Each morning the responsible local police commander reviews the incidents from the previous shifts to determine what reports will need to be followed up on by the Investigating Division. Not all cases are investigated by detectives. The majority of crimes can and will be investigated by the original officer.

The Detectives: The local police detectives will investigate the more serious offenses, i.e., homicide, suicides, major burglaries, breaking and entering, fraud, etc., but not all cases require a detective for the investigation. The detectives are a resource to the investigating patrol officer, and your primary contact in most crimes will be the original responding officer, but this varies by the individual police department. If a detective is the CIO (chief investigating officer) or is assigned the case, then they become your person of contact.

Work the Case: If there is a workable suspect, information, or clues left behind by the suspect, the local police officer(s) will attempt to work your case. If there are no suspects or clues, or the suspects are outside of the country, the case will be filed as an open case. Usually, you will not hear from an officer unless new evidence develops.

Copy of the Report: If you or your insurance company is in need of a copy of the police report, it can be obtained from the Records Section of the Local Police Department. The original responding officer will often provide a form with instructions on how to obtain a copy of your report, but this varies from agency to agency. Most reports will be available the next business day. However, it is best to call the local police department and speak with personnel in the Records Section to see if your report is available before coming to the department – though now many reports can be obtained by email. The form provided by the officer will contain your case number, which will enable personnel to look up the report.

Possible Case Outcomes

There are two possible outcomes to an investigative assessment. Once the local police have made a decision, they are supposed to contact you to explain and offer any advice, if needed.

1. Your case will be investigated further

If the local police decide to look into your case further they will assign an investigating officer to you. They’ll act as your single point of contact during the investigation, answering any of your questions and keeping you updated as the case progresses.

If you need to provide any additional statements, they’ll talk you through them.

2. The investigation will be closed

If the local police decide to close the investigation, it’s probably because they have completed their initial steps and there are no further leads they can proportionately follow at that time.

Sometimes they receive new information or discover new evidence, in which case they can reopen the investigation and send you an update.

Regardless of whether this happens, your report and the information they gather as part of the investigation will become a vital part of how they police. It helps decide where and when they use police resources to detect and prevent crime.

However, Understand This About Scams And The Local Police

Increasingly, the local police and prosecutors are playing a role to help victims recover their lost or stolen money. Not all police departments (in fact a very small percentage) really understand how to do this yet! So this is going to be an evolving situation.

You should ask the detective or officer if they are going to investigate the case. Usually, the answer will be no. Then you should ask if they are going to help you to recover your money. In that case, the answer will be no or yes.

If yes, they will do what is needed to work on recovery.

If no, then you can help them understand that recovery is often possible either through cryptocurrency tracing or by using the Interpol approach on bank wire transfers. If you lost money and it did not involve a bank wire or crypto, then you probably can not recover anything.

However, not all police departments are going to aid you in recovering your money. This is just a fact of life.

Following Up With The Local Police

If you have filed your complaint or given your statement, let the local police do their job. Stop worrying about it for now.

If a month goes by and you do not hear anything. then follow up with the officer by phone or email. If you get a reply great, but if not, then let it go until the next month.

We recommend following up every month with the contact officer – but not more frequently. This is important, to establish a line of communication and to sustain pressure that your case still needs attention. It can also be helpful in establishing if they are following proper procedures as well.

Do not harass them, not only is this counterproductive, but this is also not going to allow you to move forward emotionally. After reporting the crime, you need to let it stay in their hands so you can move forward with your own recovery.

The best way to follow up with the local police after filing a complaint would be to contact the department’s non-emergency number or the officer assigned to the case (if known) and inquire about the status of the complaint. It’s important to provide any relevant information or documentation that can assist in the investigation. Be respectful and professional when speaking with the police and avoid making any assumptions or accusations. If you feel that your complaint is not being taken seriously or adequately addressed, you can request to speak with a supervisor or file a complaint with the department’s internal affairs division.

What If The Local Police Won’t Investigate Or Act On My Case?

When you go to the local police, and they refuse to investigate your case there are some options.

There are lots of reasons police won’t pursue a case. Maybe the value of your loss is too little. Maybe after an initial look, there is just no evidence to warrant further work. Or bottom line, maybe the local police think an investigation just isn’t worth their very limited time and money.

Regardless of the reason given, what can you do if the police refuse to investigate your case?

1. Go Up the Food Chain Getting Action on Scams

Local Police do NOT have a legal duty to investigate all reported crimes. However, this doesn’t mean you’re helpless if the local police won’t investigate the crime against you.

If repeated calls and reports to the police department don’t encourage any action, go up the food chain. Contact the local District Attorney’s office. Most DA’s offices have their own investigation team and may investigate and pursue charges independently of the police.

If that doesn’t work, contact the mayor’s office. While the mayor’s office probably won’t have the resources to investigate crimes itself, the mayor’s office may be able to put pressure on the police to investigate if enough citizens complain.

2. Things NOT To Do

Do not harass the local police officers. If they do not respond or tell you they are not going to investigate, leave it at that. They have made a decision. Focus on outsiders to help change their decision, such as the police chief or police commissioners, or elected officials. Or accept the decision and focus on your own wellbeing and recovery.

Do NOT go to the press. This will turn the local police against you and you may not have any real idea of what is going on in the case. The press cares nothing for you, you are just another victim to be exploited.

3. If you truly believe you have a case …

These are LAST RESORT actions. Do not consider these until you are far down the road, and they have denied your case and your victim’s rights.

You can ask to speak to the local police department’s Internal Affairs department. They can look at if there has been any misconduct in your case.

You can sue the local police in Civil Court if they have violated their procedures. If you can’t get justice from the criminal system, turn to civil courts. Most crimes such as battery or theft have civil law counterparts. If you are lucky enough to know who the perpetrator is, and the police won’t arrest him or the DA’s office won’t press charges, you may be able to sue for damages in civil court.

Contact an experienced litigation attorney for help understanding what is possible and what the costs will be.

Talk To The Local Police Chief

How can you get an appointment with their local police chief?

The process for scheduling an appointment with a local police chief may vary depending on the specific department and location. Generally, you can contact the police department’s non-emergency phone number or visit their website to find out how to request an appointment. Some departments may have an online form or email address specifically for scheduling appointments with the chief. It may also be possible to schedule an appointment in person at the police station.

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