A well-informed public is a valuable resource for law enforcement, and educating the public about the police and the community helps in reducing the fear of crime. The Niles Police Department officers offer their time and talent to educate as well as protect. Officers may be available upon advance notice to speak at public and private seminars and classes. Topics can include information concerning what the police do and how they do it, crime prevention and safety information, and gang and drug awareness. The Niles Police Department also sponsors a crime prevention booth each year at the Apple Festival, where all kinds of crime prevention and safety information can be found.
The Niles Police Department encourages Neighborhood Watch groups, and offers assistance to such groups with the belief that citizens are the most important resource available to the police in the fight against crime.
For information on compensation benefits which may be available to you, call or write the Crime Victim's Compensation Board, P.O. Box 30026, Lansing, MI 48909. The phone number is 517-373-7373.
Crime Prevention Tips
In Your Home
Burglars don't usually like to take many chances. They are opportunists who seek out the easiest places to break into. If they see a home with no lights on, the drapes open, newspapers stacked on the front porch, and mail in the mailbox, they know that their chances are pretty good for a successful burglary. On the other hand, closed drapes, lights on, and a well-trimmed lawn are signs that he probably better not try it. Let's face it, it's easier for him to go on up the block to find an easier target than to take a chance on a well protected home.
- Install good locks on all doors and windows. Check to ensure that all doors and first level windows are securely locked at night. Also, a rod or stick that fits snugly in the track of your windows or sliding glass doors will greatly increase window and door security.
- Leave outdoor lights illuminated even after you retire to bed. Also, motion sensor lights are inexpensive, easy to install, and effective in helping to scare away prowlers. Criminals tend to avoid well-lit places.
- Remove all obstructions, such as shrubbery, that block the view of your windows and doors. Make sure that windows are equipped with blinds or drapes, and keep them closed at night, especially in bedrooms and bathrooms.
- Keep an inventory of your valuables and electronic equipment so you will know immediately if something is missing. Include photographs of jewels and serial numbers of other costly items. Etch your Social Security Number on items, when possible.
- Don't give away unnecessary information to strangers over the telephone. Require identification of salesmen, repairmen and other strangers who come to your door, before you let them inside. Make sure that you have a peephole or other means of identifying persons outside your door before you open it.
- Finally, be a good neighbor and report suspicious persons in the neighborhood to the police. Be sure to get a description of the person and a license plate of any vehicle used.
In Your Car
Personal safety and theft are your two biggest concerns involving your car. These crime prevention tips, if heeded, will help protect you from both. Don't be an easy victim!
- Always lock your car and carry your keys with you. Don't keep an extra key "hidden" anywhere on the car, thieves know where to look.
- When away from the car keep all valuables in your trunk, not in view.
- Don't pick up hitchhikers, and don't be one yourself.
- Park your car only in well lighted lots, as close to traveled areas as possible.
- When leaving a building to go to your car, have your keys ready to use and walk with others whenever possible. Check to make sure that your car is empty before you get into it, and lock your doors once inside.
- If you think that you are being followed, drive to a nearby well-lit and busy business establishment or other public place to call the police. If you can't get out of your car, honk the horn to attract attention.
- If you have car trouble, stay in your car and lock yourself in. If another motorist stops to offer help, roll down your window slightly and ask him to call the police or a tow truck for you. Don't get out of the car until identified help arrives.
Self-protection means using good common sense. If you will follow these simple tips, you can help prevent getting yourself into potentially dangerous situations. The best defense is to use your head. Always be aware of your surroundings and alert to possible danger.
- Don't walk alone at night, and always walk in well-lighted areas.
- Walk near the curb, away from buildings, dark doorways, and shrubbery where someone might be hiding.
- Don't accept rides from strangers.
- Try to let someone know where you're going and when you expect to be home.
- If you must travel or walk by yourself at night, always be on the defensive. Give an impression of someone who is determined and walk purposefully. If you suspect a problem, go directly to the nearest public place and call the police. Do not remain passive if anyone touches you offensively. Attract attention!
- When you return home at night, be sure to have an outside light burning, and have your door keys in your hand before you get to the door.
Rape is the most serious, frightening and violent of all crimes against women. It is a crime of opportunity. If you can eliminate the opportunity, you can help decrease your chances of being a victim. A rapist can be just about anyone- you just can't recognize one on the street- so it's important to be able to recognize potentially dangerous situations. (See "Crime Prevention-Personal Safety" for tips on how to stay safe).
If You Are Attacked
Because every sexual assault is different, there are no rules that are ideal for every situation. Only you can judge what will work best. However, there are a number of options you can choose from to protect yourself.
- Struggling- It may scare him off, but it may also work against you by wearing you out or arousing your attacker. Struggling may make sense, but only if you are sure he is alone and has no weapons. Be sure you are prepared to really hurt him if you decide to fight!
- Running- This will only work if you are sure you can get to a place of safety.
- Screaming- This may scare him off , but it may also make him more violent. If you are sure that help is within hearing distance, scream loud and long!
- Stalling- If you think you can buy some time to think, stalling may be a good tactic. Try to get him to talk. Get him to see you as a real person, not just a target. You can even tell him that you have a sexually transmitted disease.
- Weapons- Items such as mace and pepper spray might work, but remember that these things can easily be used against you instead. If you intend to carry a weapon, make sure that you are in compliance with the law and know how to safely use it.
- If you think that your life is in danger, use any defense you can think of. Scream, run, fight back- do anything you think might help save your life.
If You Have Been Raped
If persuasion and resistance do not work, concentrate on your attacker's identity. Try to note and remember his race, height, weight, color and style of hair, color of eyes, etc. and any mannerisms or unusual marks. If raped, don't feel ashamed or responsible- rape is never the victim's fault! Report the crime to the police immediately. The police do not reveal the names of rape victims to the news media.
- Try to remain as calm as possible.
- Do not bathe, shower, or douche.
- Don't throw away or launder the clothes you are wearing.
Be prepared to cooperate fully with the police. The police will assist you in obtaining medical assistance and an exam at the hospital. The Medical Center has trained counselors on hand to offer support and answer questions. Questions concerning the attack must be asked in detail in order to have as much information as possible. Even if you don't think that you want to file charges against your attacker, report the crime anyway, you might change your mind later. And remember, a rapist who is successful once will try to rape again unless apprehended.
Rape crisis counseling and assistance are also available at the Middle Way House through a 24-hour Rape Crisis Line: 812-336-0846. Middle Way House advocates will help you by giving advice, explaining the investigation process, helping you work with the police, and accompanying you to court if you pursue charges.
Domestic violence is the most repeated, least reported crime in the nation. It is the single most serious cause of injury to women. An abusive relationship escalates over time- it occurs more frequently and also gets increasingly dangerous. Domestic violence is a crime, no less serious than other violent crime just because the victim and offender are known to each other.
The Niles Police Department takes crimes involving domestic violence seriously. If you are the victim of domestic violence, you have the right to go to court and file a civil petition with the circuit court requesting an injunctive order to protect you or other members of your household from domestic abuse which include the following:
- An order restraining or enjoining the abuser from entering onto premises.
- An order restraining or enjoining the abuser from assaulting, beating, molesting, or wounding you.
- An order restraining or enjoining the abuser from threatening to kill or physically injure you or another person.
- An order restraining or enjoining the abuser from removing minor children from you, except as otherwise authorized by a custody or visitation order issued by a court of competent jurisdiction.
- An order restraining or enjoining the abuser from engaging in stalking behavior.
- Beginning April 1, 1996, an order restraining or enjoining the abuser from purchasing or possessing a firearm.
- An order restraining or enjoining the abuser from interfering with your efforts to remove your children or personal property from premises that are solely owned or leased by the abuser.
- An order restraining or enjoining the abuser from interfering with you at your place of employment or engaging in conduct that impairs your employment relationship or environment.
- An order restraining or enjoining the abuser from engaging in any other specific act or conduct that imposes upon or interferes with your personal liberty or that causes a reasonable apprehension of violence.
It is the policy of this Department that officers will presume that arrest of the offender, consistent with state law, is the appropriate response to such incidents. If the offender has fled prior to the arrival of officers and cannot be located, the victim can be offered assistance in finding a safe place to stay.
The City of Niles Police Department would like to thank the City of Bloomington Indiana for permission to use material from their Police Department website.