In November 2016, I reported my rape to the Rumson NJ police department. As part of that investigation I provided the police with my journal from the time of the rape. By December 2016, I had met with the prosecutors and was told that the case would not be prosecuted and the investigation was complete.
On Christmas Eve 2016 I was back in Rumson and contacted the police for the first time about retrieving my notebook back. I was told the Detective had to release it to me himself and I needed to coordinate with him. I sent him an email about trying to do this. He never responded.
Several times when I was in the area, which was very infrequent, I contacted the station and was met with a series of difficulties in getting in touch with the Detective. I left him a message he never returned on his office voicemail at one point. And when I spoke to the dispatcher I was met with no help in terms of how I can get back my notebook when I live in Brooklyn and work 9-5 when his hours were the same as mine in Rumson.
When I met with the prosecutor some months back, I mentioned the notebook to them. They reached out to Rumson police, who told the prosecutor’s office who told me the name of a new detective who was now responsible for the release. Once again, I was told that their hours were normal business hours and therefore there was no way of knowing when I would be able to actually get the notebook back. I replied to the prosecutor’s office with this concern, and they never responded either.
On December 26, 2018 I was in Rumson. I went with my friend directly to the police station. I was told that Detective was not in. Frustrated, on a whim, I asked if I could authorize my friend to pick it up another time since she lives in the area still. The person there was unsure, but she made copies of both of our IDs, and eventually got word that as long as I call the same day my friend went to pick it up she should be able to do it.
On December 30, 2018, I called and spoke to the detective and gave him verbal authorization to give my notebook to my friend. She was able to pick it up. And now, over two years later, I have it back.
The crime victim bill of rights in NJ includes the following language:
“To the prompt return of property when no longer needed as evidence”
There is no evidence that this notebook was even given a second glance in the “investigation.” Besides that, the burden of getting it back was unnecessarily difficult. The only reason I was even able to get it back the other day was because of a suggestion I made that was never offered to me.
The point of this post is similar to many other posts I have made; in every regard of the justice system in terms of how it handles victims of sexual violence, WE CAN AND SHOULD BE DOING SO. MUCH. BETTER.