Textual Harrasment: A PSA from UPD

T-Sgt. Nate Leonard, Columnist

   Almost everyone communicates using cell phones these days, whether by texting or calling. Cell phones are extremely convenient and are a great luxury. I’m sure many people would actually argue that they are a necessity and would probably have a strong case for that. Unfortunately, they also can be a source of criminal activity and cause a great deal of inconvenience for some. The University Police Department responds to a great deal of complaints of harassment phone calls and texts each semester. “Criminal activity?” you may be asking. Yes, sending harassing or annoying texts, messages, or phone calls by way of telephone or computer is a Class A Misdemeanor according to the New York State Penal Law. Many times we respond to instances of ex boyfriends or girlfriends repeatedly calling or sending text messages. This most often meets the criteria for a criminal charge. Imagine having a criminal record follow you for the rest of your life because you couldn’t get over an ex and kept sending them annoying text messages or calling them. Seems fairly innocent at the time, until the Police Department receives the complaint and subpoenas your phone records. Once they have these from your cellular provider, they usually have all of the information needed to apply for an arrest warrant. You will then have to answer the charges brought against you. Please think about the possible consequences of sending that text message, phone call or email. Though it may seem like a good idea at the time, you don’t want to have to answer for it in the future!

   On the other side of these complaints is the victim. They are typically the ones who initiate these aggravated harassment cases and have been annoyed or alarmed to the point where they turn to the Police to handle the case and make the calls stop. If you receive any such call or message, there are a few things you should do. The first piece of advice I offer is to ignore the call or message. With caller ID on almost every phone these days, usually you would have a good idea of who is calling or texting. If you ignore these initial calls and messages you will, most times, deter the subject from continuing. They are often looking to get a rise out of you and if you respond they will feed off of your response and continue. If they continue after you ignore them, you can advise them to stop contacting you and that if they continue you will turn the matter over to the police d epartment. You should not delete any messages or calls, and keep some sort of log of the dates and times you receive these calls and messages. This log will aid you when the Police ask you to provide a written statement explaining the history of these communications. Hopefully you never become the victim of aggravating or harassing phone calls, but if you are, these are a few things that will hopefully help you out.

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