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Reporting Crime

Find out how to report and respond to many types of crimes and criminal behavior.

Reporting Criminal Activity

To report criminal activity, contact your local police or sheriff's department first. They can determine if a report of criminal activity needs attention. If this is an emergency, call 911.

How to Report Local or State Law Violations

Report suspected crime, like traffic violations and illegal drug use, to local authorities. Or you can report it to your nearest state police office. Find contact information:

  • Online

  • In your local telephone directory under Police Departments or Local Governments

How to Report Federal Law Violations

Report suspected violations of federal law to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).  

The FBI investigates:

  • Cyber crime

  • Public corruption

  • Hate crimes

  • Human trafficking

  • White-collar crime

  • Violent crime

Bomb Threats by Telephone

If you receive a bomb threat over the telephone, Ready.gov provides the following information on what to do:

  • Get as much information from the caller as possible. Try to ask the following questions:
    • When is the bomb going to explode?
    • Where is it right now?
    • What does it look like?
    • What kind of bomb is it?
    • What will cause it to explode?
    • Did you place the bomb?
  • Keep the caller on the line and record everything that is said.
  • Notify the police and building management immediately.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) also provides a helpful telephone bomb threat checklist.

Get more information on what to do if you receive a bomb threat or find a suspicious item

Human Trafficking

Human trafficking is a form of modern-day slavery. Traffickers use force, fraud, or coercion to exploit their victims for labor or commercial sex. Human trafficking happens around the world and in the U.S.

If you or someone you know is in immediate danger, call 911.

Warning Signs

Call the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888, send a text to BeFree (233733), or report tips online if someone you observe:

  • Is not free to leave or come and go as he or she wishes
  • Works excessively long and/or unusual hours
  • Avoids eye contact
  • Appears fearful, anxious, depressed, submissive, tense, or nervous/paranoid
  • Appears malnourished
  • Shows signs of physical and/or sexual abuse, physical restraint, confinement, or torture
  • Has few or no personal possessions

Learn more potential signs of human trafficking.

Agencies Combating Human Trafficking

Several federal agencies can respond to reports of potential human trafficking and can help survivors:

You can report human trafficking to DHS enforcement specialists 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 1-866-347-2423 (toll-free) or 1-802-872-6199 (non toll-free international)

  • The Department of Health & Human Services' Office on Trafficking in Persons offers:

    • Victim resources

    • Downloadable training materials

    • Grants to help combat human trafficking

Sexual Assault

Sexual assault is any kind of unwanted sexual activity, from touching to rape. If you've been sexually assaulted, use these resources to get help.

Get Help After a Sexual Assault

Get Information About Sexual Assault

File a Restraining Order

If you're in an emergency situation, call 911.

If you've been a victim of domestic abuse and want to take legal action, you may be able to file for a protective order. Protective orders are also known as restraining orders or injunctions.

State courts issue protective orders. These legal orders demand that your abuser:

  • Stops hurting or threatening you

  • Stays a certain distance away from you

The process for obtaining a protective order differs from state-to-state. Your local police and court can help you get the process started. Contact your state, county, or municipal court for more information.

Generally, you have to fill out paperwork and submit it to the county courthouse. If you need protection right away, a judge may issue a temporary restraining order. To get a longer-term order, your judge may require a full court hearing and/or your abuser's presence.

A protective order can be enforced by police. If necessary, the order can include special provisions like:

  • Custody of children

  • Continued financial support

  • Forcing the abuser to leave a home

In some states, a protective order requires the abuser to surrender all firearms.

File a Complaint About a Law Enforcement Officer or Judge

You can file complaints about misconduct by law enforcement officers and by judges.

Complaints About Police Officers

If you have experienced police misconduct:

  • Contact the law enforcement agency involved.
  • Submit your complaint in writing to the chief of police or the head of the law enforcement agency involved.
  • Send a copy of your complaint to the Internal Affairs Division of the law enforcement agency. Be sure to keep a copy for yourself.

If the problem remains unresolved, learn how to file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Justice's (DOJ) Civil Rights Division.

Finally, as with any potential legal dispute, you may want to contact a licensed attorney.

Complaints Against Judges

Federal Judges

Learn how to file a complaint about a federal judge. You can report alleged misconduct or disability that interferes with their ability to perform their duties.

State and Local Judges

The rules for filing complaints about state and local judges vary by state.

To complain about a state judge, contact your state's commission on judicial conduct. It may be listed under state agencies on your state government web site

Report Child Pornography

Child pornography includes any image of sexually explicit conduct involving a minor. A minor is anyone younger than 18. 

Child pornography can include:

  • Photographs

  • Films

  • Videos

  • Computer-generated images or pictures

Reporting Child Pornography

To report child pornography, contact the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children:

Child Pornography in the Mail

It is illegal to send child pornography through the U.S. mail. For more information, visit the U.S. Postal Inspection Service's section on child exploitation.

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Last Updated: September 8, 2021

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