Stalking Victims Don't Have To Suffer In Silence, LAPD Official Says
LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — The statistics are alarming with one in four women expected to be stalked in her lifetimes.
But Jeff Dunn, the officer in charge of the LAPD's Threat Management Unit, emphasizes that victims need not suffer in silence.
Dunn, who's also using his expertise as a consultant for CBS' new suspense drama "Stalker," tells CBS2 that in his 19 years of experience, he has yet to see a case become exacerbated because law enforcement intervened in some way.
"Stalking is a crime, and there are a lot of related behaviors that go along with stalking," he said. "Criminal threats, harassing phone calls, trespass, vandalism, batteries, assaults."
One of the most terrifying cases of stalking that Dunn says he's seen was the case involving Olympic gold-medal-winning gymnast Shawn Johnson.
"It was quite frightening. We had a delusional man living in Florida that perceived that he had a relationship with Shawn Johnson through his mind and through television communication," he said. "He was convinced that he impregnated her with his mind. Saw her on the television show 'Dancing with the Stars' so that basically located her for him. He knew where he could find her."
Dunn recounts: "He gets into his car and he drives across country, 3,000-plus miles, to make his way to a sound stage where Shawn was on the show. He's got a shotgun. He's got a .45-caliber handgun that he secreted into a book."
Dunn said the man made it all the way to the gates of a television studio with Johnson inside before being apprehended by security March 23, 2009.
"With celebrity cases and a lot of times, when dealing with public figures, mental health issues are driving the behavior," he explained.
Mental-health issues also caused an obsessed fan to shoot and kill "My Sister Sam" actress Rebecca Schaeffer in the doorway of her Los Angeles apartment 25 years ago. The killer had been stalking Schaeffer for three years.
"Had the Threat Management Unit been in existence at the time that Rebecca Schaeffer was filming that show, I'm extremely confident that she'd still be alive today," he said.
But as Dunn explains, most cases don't involve celebrities. In fact, 85 percent to 95 percent of the time, stalking cases involve those other than celebrities, making it more imperative that people protect their privacy.
Dunn recommends taking simple steps, such as, removing your address from your personal checks, having a home security system and outside lighting, and being mindful of what you post on social media sites.
"A lot of people give away too much information. It makes them very accessible and puts them at risk," he said.
for more features.