January is Stalking Awareness Month. In recognition of the under-reported national problem, the Casper Police Department gave a stalking awareness presentation at the Natrona County Public Library Thursday evening.

Casper Police Officer Jeremy Tremel said there are two levels of stalking covered by Wyoming statute, misdemeanor and felony stalking, but the definition is the same, a pattern of harassing someone to the point where he or she feels fear and alarm at the unwanted contact.

Stalking behaviors can range from the low tech, like tracking someone by social engineering, talking to people, to high tech such as using computer programs for tapping into the victim's cell phone or computer.

When asked if presentations like his might assist would-be stalkers, Officer Tremel said it was more important to inform potential victims.

Victims need to know:

"I mean that's always a fear, but I think the worse thing is having a victim out there who doesn't know what is available to the stalker. If you have somebody who's being stalked by another individual, and they don't know what to look for and they've got a program that is potentially installed on their phone or their computer and they're being tracked. I think that's ultimately a bigger threat, if you have a stalker who ended up going to one of these presentations."

Officer Tremel also gave a short list of what to do if you're being stalked by someone.

What you need to do:

"I would say protect yourself by doing everyday things, things that you know to do like change your passwords, change up your routine, keep a file, keep a stalking log of activity that's going on and report that activity to the police, so that there's a record of what's happening."

Alana Hamm, with the Casper PD's Victim Services Unit, said that it is an individual thing to decide whether the harassment is cause for alarm.

Case by case threshold:

"So if it's getting to the point where you're seriously alarmed by something that somebody says, a course of conduct. We tell our victims at least three occurrences, or it doesn't matter how necessarily long a time it's been, but if there's been a lot of contact in a few days, that could be considered harassment, or if it's been over a longer period of time. It's hard to define."

Ms. Hamm says that's why the first step is to do a threat assessment. She also said most people don't report stalking, which means they're not getting help.

Again, what to do if you're a victim of stalking: tell people about it, vary your routine, create a stalking log, and go to the police. The number for the Victim Services Unit is 235-8347.