To provide feedback on the Community Policing Dispatch, e-mail the editorial board at CPDispatch@usdoj.gov.
U.S. Department of Justice
Office of Community Oriented Policing Services
Every day more and more law enforcement personnel are being called out on suspected cases of elder abuse and neglect. Elder abuse can be physical, sexual, emotional, or financial. Caregivers on the scene may be bystanders, witnesses, or—all too often—perpetrators. And, all too, often, first responders cut short their interview with the elderly victim in order to focus on caregivers and younger family members. Various stereotypes of older adults play into this tendency—law enforcement responders may assume that the elderly won’t remember the facts or are unreliable witnesses, or may dismiss elder abuse as a family or a civil matter.
The COVID-19 crisis has exacerbated the problem of elder abuse. Social isolation is a major risk factor for becoming a victim—even when isolation is necessary to safeguard against infection. Older adults need to stay physically distant, but it is important to help them stay socially connected through the telephone and internet. Phone reassurance programs and COVID-19 helplines are proving to be of great assistance during this crisis.
Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, however, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has been investigating elder abuse, and has released resources to provide guidance in how to handle these situations. These resources are available through the website of the DOJ’s Elder Justice Initiative (EJI) or through the Elder Resources heading on the COPS Office Training Portal.
One of the tools the EJI developed is the Elder Abuse Guide for Law Enforcement (EAGLE) website, which is now available for your use. A team of experts from the University of Southern California, University of California – Irvine, University of California – Davis School of Gerontology, and Kim D’Amico Consulting have delivered a user-friendly set of tools that guides and aids first responding law enforcement (LE) officers in identifying victims of all forms of elder abuse (physical, sexual, financial, emotional) and neglect. EAGLE will also guide LE through the collection of data necessary to document cases for prosecution and enable LE to provide victims with appropriate local resources to help with long-term management of the situation. If you would like receive updates concerning elder abuse issues, please sign up for the EAGLE newsletter.
The EAGLE team has also developed in-person or web-based trainings to further your experience in using the site. Information on trainings is available at the Elder Abuse Guide for Law Enforcement website.
So much is asked of law enforcement, and this current pandemic has put a strain on all resources. EAGLE can help. Our older adults are the people who raised us: now is the time to make sure we serve them in their time of need.
To sign up for monthly updates or to access your subscriber preferences, please enter your email address in the Subscribe box.