If you’re being stalked by a person who isn’t a relative or a romantic partner in Idaho, there’s not much the police can do to protect you from having contact. Civil protective orders here don’t cover stalking behavior by acquaintances or strangers.
But Idaho State Sen. Grant Burgoyne, D-Boise, wants to change that. The lawmaker and attorney says he’s been working on legislation to broaden the categories governing protective orders since 2013.
Burgoyne says his bill would cover anyone who is being harassed or stalked – in person, online or over the phone – no matter their relationship to the stalker.
“We’re seeing an increasing number of people who are the victims of various kinds of harassment and stalking," says Burgoyne, "who don’t have any relationship with the people stalking or harassing them.”
Burgoyne has heard from constituents who have been unable to get protective orders in these cases, and that police and prosecutors aren’t able to help without expanding the statute. According to the American Bar Association, Idaho is the only state in the Northwest where this protection isn’t on the books.
The lawmaker says he's heard the criticism that protective orders don't deter people from committing a crime. But he says if it can stop some incidents of stalking, or make people feel safer, then it's worth expanding the law.
“For some people who are under that kind of an order they will obey. For others we understand that it may not. But it does give our prosecutors and our police officers leverage and it does put people who have those kinds of orders on the radar."
Burgoyne says he’s planning to introduce a bill in the 2016 legislative session.
Find reporter Frankie Barnhill on Twitter @FABarnhill
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