A special task force has come up with a new tool to combat elder abuse in Michigan.
It may only appear to be a simple form to be filled out by a police officer. But prosecutors and law enforcement officials say the standardized form, along with new online training, will help prosecute cases of physical abuse and financial exploitation of older Michiganders.
Kalamazoo County Prosecutor Jeffrey Getting says the form will help police officers know what questions to ask when investigating elder abuse cases.
“There are things we need to be able to prove in a courtroom that doesn’t necessarily come to the forefront when police are looking at these cases,” says Getting.
According to the National Institute on Aging, most victims of abuse are women. Likely targets are older people who have no family or friends nearby and people with disabilities, memory problems and dementia.
The NIA says abuse can happen to any older person, but often affects those who depend on others for help with activities of everyday life—including bathing, dressing, and taking medicine.
“Speaking from experience, working on many of these cases, this is one of the most critical crimes that are committed amongst some of our most vulnerable citizens,” says Col. Joseph Gasper, director of the Michigan State Police.
The new form won’t be mandated. But Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel hopes local police and prosecutors will use it.
She says that will make it a deterrent.
“People will know now that law enforcement is really paying attention,” says Nessel, “Maybe they will stop committing some of these offenses.”
The state of Michigan does not have exact figures on the number of elder abuse cases occur in the state each year.