Police, sheriff, and other peace officers are often called when safety is endangered or crime might have occurred. While mistreatment of elders and adults with disabilities, like other forms of family violence, has traditionally been viewed as a family problem, criminal justice systems are adapting to better address elder abuse and neglect as a criminal issue.
In addition to exploring ways to strengthen cases for prosecution, law enforcement agencies also work with social services providers, community sentinels, and other local resources to protect the safety and welfare of elders and adults with disabilities. Victim Services can assist individuals and families with navigating the criminal justice system, advocacy, crime victim compensation, crisis intervention, and counseling. Specifically, law enforcement may undertake any of the following in cases of elder abuse:
- Arrest perpetrators
- Enforcing restraining orders
- Perform “well-being” checks
- Provide assistance to APS in conducting investigations
Law enforcement also play a role in prevention. They may participate in multidisciplinary or community teams, coalitions, or forums to address elder abuse, neglect, and exploitation. One example is TRIAD, a group of three sectors of a community that partner to keep older adults safe from crime: public safety, criminal justice, and the older adult community. The purpose of Triad is to promote older adult safety and to reduce the fear of crime that older adults often experience. Once a Triad is formed, a SALT Council is created, which is a group of community representatives who implement programs and activities to achieve the objectives. To learn more about TRIAD and SALT Councils, please visit the website of the National Association of Triads.
Law Enforcement only has so much time to evaluate a situation and determine if Elder Abuse may be occurring. The Department of Justice (DoJ) has provided the USC Keck School of Medicine, the host of the NCEA, with grant funding to develop and deploy a web module that can be formatted for officers to utilize in the event that they are first on scene to a possible incidence of elder abuse. Faculty and Staff from the Center of Excellence on Elder Abuse and Neglect at UCI, the Keck School of Medicine of USC’s Department of Family Medicine and Geriatrics and the USC Davis School of Gerontology are developing the Elder Abuse Guide for Law Enforcement (EAGLE) into a fully functional application for a national law enforcement audience. The goal is to provide a comprehensive web module that not only provides essential foundational Elder Abuse Information but a template for every state to upload their specific penal code/EA regulatory sections.
Selection of NCEA publications:
Read about agencies addressing Elder Abuse, Law Enforcement, and Criminology:
- The National Institute of Justice supports selected projects to identify emerging promising practices and evaluate their effectiveness in improving prevention, detection, and intervention efforts.
- The Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force is a coalition of federal, state and local partners seeking to investigate and prosecute significant financial crimes, ensure just and effective punishment for those who perpetrate financial crimes, recover proceeds for victims and address financial discrimination in the lending and financial markets.
- National Association of Attorneys General—States’ Attorneys General can help interpret Statutes governing responses to elder mistreatment, track and investigate consumer complaints, and may alert constituents of ways to prevent abuse.
- Office of Justice Programs- Bureau of Justice Statistics
Office of Justice Programs- Bureau of Justice Statistics has information concerning agencies who are equipped to respond to safety concerns, investigate suspected crimes, and monitor perpetrators.
- Office for Victims of Crime offers help for crime victims and is available from area, state, and/or regional agencies that offer services to individuals who have been victimized by crime.