In collaboration with the U.S. Department of Justice’s Elder Justice Initiative, the IACP developed a six-part roll call video series which enables law enforcement to better identify signs of elder abuse and recognize evidence that can lead to a successful prosecution.
Elder abuse is a heartbreaking crime—yet it occurs all too frequently. As the average age of the population continues to increase, elder abuse will become a more prevalent issue. The sixth and final roll call video in the Identifying and Responding to Elder Abuse: An Officer’s Role series reviews the advice and warning signs for frontline officers to keep in mind as they respond to situations that may involve elder abuse.
Important tips to remember
- Separate potential suspects and victims from one another when conducting interviews.
- Dig deeper and look for inconsistencies in the stories of both the victims and the suspects.
- Use patience and understanding, this could be the factor that leads victims to feel comfortable enough to tell an officer about their abuse.
- Be strategic about times to interview persons with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, as they often become more disoriented later in the day. Ask simple questions that include timeframe anchors.
- Detailed documentation of everything is critical—including descriptions of things you can see and smell.
- Observation of bruising is critical, as bruises will fade over time.
- Even if a suspected abuser presents a durable power of attorney, do not assume that there isn’t an ongoing crime. While having a power of attorney authorizes an individual to move funds or negotiate on someone’s behalf, it is not a blank check to steal their funds.
Abuse can happen to anyone, regardless of race, sex, or any other cultural factor. After reviewing this six-part roll call video series, officers will have the tools to assist them in recognizing and stopping elder abuse. Through partnerships with the district attorney’s office, victim services providers (such as Adult Protective Services), and medical professionals, a stronger case can be made against those committing elder abuse.
The roll call videos and other elder abuse resources can be found at https://www.theiacp.org/elder-abuse.