Crimes Against Persons, Property, or Society
Every year, more than three million people are victims of domestic violence, and one million children are physically abused. In the State of Nebraska, it is against the law for any person to threaten, assault, sexually abuse or otherwise harm another person, even if they are married. These crimes are not exclusively committed against women, but women are the majority of the victims affected by these crimes. Domestic violence, by law, is defined as abuse involving spouses, former spouses, adult co-habitants, former co-habitants, persons who have children in common, or those in a dating relationship or past intimate relationship.
The Bellevue Police Department regards domestic violence as a serious violent crime. Our primary objectives in responding to domestic violence calls are to protect and assist the victim, de-escalate the violent situation, investigate the crime, enforce the law against the perpetrator (either male or female) when probable cause exists, collect and preserve evidence for prosecution, and to assist in the successful prosecution so as to provide consequences for the perpetrators of these acts.
The first step in ending the cycle of domestic violence is by calling the police, telling a friend, or contacting a shelter. There have been numerous studies which indicate that if violence is not stopped, it only worsens over time. The time for you to act is now. Hotlines, shelters and counseling are available. Most of these services are just a phone call away.
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MYTHS AND FACTS
- Domestic violence does not affect many people
- A woman is beaten every 15 seconds
- Domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to women between ages 15 and 44 in the United States
- Battered women are more likely to suffer miscarriages and to give birth to babies with low birth weights
- Sixty-three percent of the young men between the ages of 11 and 20 who are serving time for homicide have killed their mother’s abuser
- Battering is only a momentary loss of temper
- Battering is the establishment of control and fear in a relationship through violence and other forms of abuse. The batterer uses acts of violence and a series of behaviors, including intimidation, threats, psychological abuse, isolation, etc. to coerce and to control the other person. The violence may not happen often, but it remains as a hidden (and constant) terrorizing factor
- One in five women victimized by their spouses or ex-spouses report they had been victimized over and over again by the same person
- Domestic violence only occurs in poor, urban areas.
- Women of all cultures, races, occupations, income levels, and ages are battered by husbands, boyfriends, lovers and partners
- Approximately one-third of the men counseled (for battering) are professional men who are well respected in their jobs and their communities. These have included doctors, psychologists, lawyers, ministers, and business executives
- Domestic violence is just a push, slap or punch. It does not produce serious injuries
- Battered women are often severely injured. Twenty-two to thirty-five percent of the women who visit medical emergency rooms are there for injuries related to ongoing partner abuse
- One in four pregnant women have a history of partner violence
- It is easy for battered women to leave their abuser
- Women who leave their batterers are at a 75 percent greater risk of being killed by the batterer than those who stay
- Nationally, 50 percent of all homeless women and children are on the streets because of violence in the home
- There are nearly three times as many animal shelters in the United States as there are shelters for battered women and their children
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Q: How can I obtain a protection order against someone?
A: To obtain a protection order, you must go to the Sarpy County Courthouse located at 1210 Golden Gate Drive in Papillion (84th and Highway 370) and fill out several forms detailing the need for a protection order. For more help, contact the Sarpy County Victim/Witness Unit at (402) 593-2201.
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PRE-PLANNING AND SAFETY TIPS
Your safety is the most important thing. Contacting the police is one way you can protect yourself from further abuse. However, the following preplanning tips should also be considered:
- Keep emergency numbers with you. Numbers to have are the police, hotlines, friends and the local domestic violence shelter.
- Contact local shelters and discuss safe ways to leave and places for you and your children to go.
- Certain organizations may be able to provide you with a cell phone that is programmed to only call 911. These phones are for when you need to call the police and cannot get to any other phone.
- Contact friends or neighbors you could tell about the abuse. Ask them to call the police if they hear angry or violent noises.
- If you have children, teach them how to dial 911. Make up a code word that you can use when you need help.
- Keep an extra set of house and car keys hidden in a safe, quickly accessible place.
- Develop plans to contact police or find a temporary hiding place with a trustworthy friend. Figure out how to get out of your home safely. Practice ways to get out.
- Even if you do not plan to leave, think of where you could go. Think of how you might leave. Try doing things that get you out of the house - taking out the trash, walking the pet, or going to the store. Put together a bag of things you use everyday (see the checklist below). Hide it where it is easy for you to get.
- Make a list of people who might help you if you left. Think about people who will keep a bag for you. Think about people who might lend you money. Make plans for your pets and make arrangements for them to stay at a temporary shelter or at a relative's house.
- Keep change for phone calls or get a cell phone.
- Open a bank account or getting a credit card in your name.
- Get a protection order from the court. Keep a copy with you all the time. Give a copy to the police, people who take care of your children, their schools, and your boss.
- Think about changing the locks. Consider putting in stronger doors, smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, a security system and outside lights.
- Tell friends and neighbors that your abuser no longer lives with you. Ask them to call the police if they see your abuser near your home or children.
- Tell people who take care of your children the names of people who are allowed to pick them up. If you have a protection order protecting your children, give their teachers and babysitters a copy of it.
- Tell someone at work about what has happened. Ask that person to screen your calls. If you have a protection order that includes where you work, consider giving your boss a copy of it and a picture of the abuser. Think about and practice a safety plan for your workplace. This should include going to and from work.
- Try not to use the same stores or businesses that you did when you were with your abuser.
- Find someone that you can call if you feel down. Call that person if you are thinking about going to a support group or workshop.
- Determine a safe way to speak with your abuser if you must or think about contacting them through a third party.
- Go over your safety plan often.
- Figure out how you could take your children with you safely.
- Hide or destroy anything that might give a clue as to where you are going.
- DO NOT LEAVE A NOTE!
WARNING: Abusers try to control their victim's lives. When abusers feel a loss of control - like when victims try to leave them - the abuse often gets worse. Take special care when you leave. Keep being careful even after you have left. Also, if relocation affects a minor child, seek the advice of a private attorney regarding child abduction laws prior to relocating.
This section on personalized safety planning adapted from the Metro Nashville Police Department's personalized safety plan.
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If you are a victim of a crime, you are not alone.
Below is a list of agencies which have been set up with the sole purpose of helping victims of crimes and domestic violence. Please contact them if you or someone you know is a victim of a crime and is in need of assistance.
Also included in this list are shelters which can accommodate you should an emergency occur and you have nowhere else to go. Please call ahead to make sure they have space.
Sarpy County Victim / Witness Unit
Courthouse Annex East
1257 Golden Gate Drive Suite 4W
Papillion NE 68046-2857
Monday-Friday, 8:00 a.m.-4:45 p.m.
National Domestic Violence Hotline
Y.W.C.A.Women Against Violence
Rape / Domestic Violence Hotline
(402) 345-7273 (24-Hours A Day)
Victim Information and Notification Everyday (VINE)
Nebraska VINE Information
National Center for Missing and Exploited Children
National Victim Center
Mothers Against Drunk Driving (M.A.D.D.)
National Child Abuse Hotline
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Confidential Location, Bellevue, NE
2723 'Q' Street, Omaha, NE 68107
Open Door Mission
2706 N. 21st Street E., Omaha, NE 68110
P.O. Box 217, Omaha, NE 68102
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Q: What can I do about loud noises which disturb my peace?
If your peace and quiet is being disturbed by a loud noise, call the Bellevue Police at (402) 293-3100. Officers will be dispatched to your location to assist you.
Should an officer locate the source of the offensive noise, he or she will contact you in regards to pressing charges for noise ordinance violations, unless you wish to remain anonymous
Q: How can I report drug activity in my neighborhood?
A: The Bellevue Police Department has adopted a "zero-tolerance" policy in the enforcement of drug laws. Officers of the Bellevue Police Department aggressively target those individuals who not only consume but deal illegal drugs on our streets, in our neighborhoods, and in our schools. If you have information about drug activity which may be occurring in your neighborhood, you can either call the Bellevue Police Department at (402) 293-3100 to speak with an officer, or you fill out our on-line Drug Activity Report.
Q: What can I do about graffiti?
A: Should you find that your home or business has been damaged by graffiti, or you notice graffiti as you are passing through our community, please contact the Bellevue Police Department at (402) 293-3100 and report it.
Graffiti can provide valuable information to officers about criminal activity in your neighborhood and may be valuable (although you may not think so at the time). Check the area around the graffiti to see if you can locate any spray paint cans. Do not touch the cans as they may be evidence. Let the responding officer know if you find anything which is suspicious in the area of the graffiti
Once the police arrive and take a report, immediate steps must be taken to remove the graffiti. Under Bellevue City Ordinance, the Public Works Director, or his designated representative, will issue a notice to the affected property owner giving them ten (10) days to remove the graffiti, or the graffiti will be removed by the City Of Bellevue at the owner's expense.
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Q: How can I report child abuse? What are some common signs of child abuse?
A: If you suspect that a child is being abused or neglected, immediately contact either the Bellevue Police Department or the Nebraska Department Of Health and Human Services at (800) 652-1999.
It is the policy of the Bellevue Police Department to investigate all reported cases of child abuse or neglect.
Some common indicators of child abuse that you can be aware of are:
Unsuitable clothing for the weather
Lack of apparent supervision
Hostility or stress
Loss of appetite or overeating
Inappropriate interest in or knowledge of sexual acts
Nightmares, bed wetting/soiling
Drastic change in appetite or behaviors
Over-compliance or excessive aggression
Displays unusually seductive behavior
Fears intimate contact
Expression of suicidal thoughts or gestures
Fear of a particular person or family member
Unexplained burns, cuts, bruises or welts
Swollen or tender limbs
Long sleeves worn to hide injuries
New or continuing problems in school
Fear of adults
Rope burns on ankles, wrists or torso
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ELDERLY OR VULNERABLE ADULT ABUSE
Q: How can I report abuse of an elderly person or a vulnerable adult? What are the signs?
A: Elder abuse is prevalent throughout the United States, with approximately 1 million known cases occurring annually.
The syndrome is characterized by the infliction of physical, emotional, or psychological harm on an older adult. Abuse can occur through unwitting or deliberate actions. Most cases of abuse are committed in residential rather than institutional settings, and the most likely culprits are spouses, children, siblings, relatives, or paid caregivers. In older persons, the most common types of maltreatment are neglect, emotional/psychological abuse, and physical abuse. Financial exploitation also is common among older persons.
If you have information that a elderly person is being abused, immediately call either the Bellevue Police Department or the Nebraska Department Of Health and Human Services at (800) 652-1999.
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Q: I believe that someone stole my "identity." What can I do?
A: As of July 20, 2002, several changes have been made to Nebraska law dealing with identity theft under LB 276.
The definition of "Criminal Impersonation" has been expanded to include obtaining "personal identification documents or personal identifying information," then using the information to access or attempt to access the financial resources of another without authorization.
"Criminal Impersonation" and "Unauthorized Use of a Financial Transaction Device" have been amended so that the classification of the offense will be based on the dollar amounts involved in theft crimes, making these offenses more serious in nature.
Additionally, several new crimes have been created:
- The use of a "scanning device" to access information encoded on the magnetic strip of a credit or debit card without permission and with the intent to defraud (Class IV Felony)
- The use of a "re-encoder" to place information from the magnetic strip of one payment device onto the payment strip of another card without permission and with the intent to defraud (Class IV Felony)
If you become the victim of identity theft, you need to act quickly to prevent any further damage. Before you call the Bellevue Police Department, here are some things you can do right away:
- Immediately contact all your credit card issuers. Get replacement cards with new account numbers.
- Immediately notify your bank(s) of the theft. Cancel your checking and savings accounts and obtain new account numbers. Ask the bank to put stop payments on any outstanding checks that you are unsure of
- If you use the ATM card for banking services, get a new card, account number, and password
- If you have had checks stolen or bank accounts set up fraudulently, report it to Telecheck and National Processing Company (NPC). They will "flag" your file so that bogus checks will be turned down. These companies can be contacted at (800) 366-2425 (Telecheck) and (800) 526-5380 (NPC) respectively
- Contact the major national credit reporting agencies:
- Experian: (888) 397-3742
- Equifax: (800) 525-6285
- Trans Union: (800) 680-7289
- Innovis: (800) 540-2505
- Notify the Social Security Administration at (800) 269-0271 if your SSN has been used fraudulently
- If you have a passport, notify the passport office to be on the lookout for anyone ordering a new passport fraudulently
- Call the Federal Trade Commission's Identity Theft Hotline at (877) ID-THEFT.
- Call your telephone, long distance, electrical, gas and water utilities. Let them know that someone may attempt to open new service using your identification. Also contact your long distance company
- Keep a detailed list of people you talk to at financial institutions noting the dates and times. Keep copies of all correspondence and documents they may provide
- Consider hiring a lawyer if you have difficulty clearing up your credit history, or your case is complex and involves a lot of money
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911 VS. NON-EMERGENCY CALLS
Q: When should I use 911 as opposed to non-emergency numbers?
A: You should call 911 when there is a life or death emergency that requires the immediate response of one of the emergency services such as the police department, fire department, or a rescue squad. Always call 911 when there is a medical problem or something that requires the Bellevue Volunteer Fire Department to respond. You should also call 911 if there is a crime in progress (occurring at that time) which needs the immediate attention of the Bellevue Police Department to protect a life or property.
If you should need to call 911, here are some important steps to follow:
- Tell the 911 operator exactly what you need, whether it is an ambulance, fire truck, or the police.
- Try to remain calm so that operators can get information from you easily.
- Give your full name, current address, and a number which you can be called back at if necessary. If your address is different from the location of the crime, let the operator know right away.
- Stay on the phone. Do not hang up until the 911 operator tells you to!
- If possible, give the 911 operator suspect and vehicle descriptions and the last direction of travel.
When there is a situation that requires police response, but is not an emergency or is not occurring at the time of your call, contact the Bellevue Police Department non-emergency number at (402) 293-3100.
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