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  1. ELDER ABUSE for POLICE RECRUITS NYC Elder Abuse Training Project, 2004

  2. Elder Abuse • the physical, sexual, emotional or financial abuse or neglect or abandonment of an older person by a family member, friend, fiduciary or caregiver

  3. Elder Abuse • Usually involves trust between victim and perpetrator • Occurs behind closed doors • Often undetected and unreported

  4. Types of Abuse • Physical abuse • Sexual abuse • Neglect • Emotional abuse • Financial exploitation

  5. Physical Abuse • Causing physical pain or injury • Hitting, slapping • Shoving • Cutting • Burning • Forcibly restraining

  6. Sexual Abuse • Any non-consensual sexual contact • Sexual contact with a person incapable of giving consent • Rape, sodomy, coerced nudity

  7. Neglect • Failure to carry out a caregiving responsibility • Passive neglect • Unintentional failure to provide care • Can be well meaning caretaker who is unable to meet the older person’s needs • Active Neglect • Intentional failure to provide care

  8. Emotional Abuse • Causing mental pain • Name calling • Insulting • Ignoring • Threatening • Isolating • Demeaning • Controlling behavior

  9. Financial Exploitation • Illegal or improper use of the resources of an older person for personal gain • Misuse of a power of attorney

  10. More than One Form of Abuse May be Occurring • Emotional abuse often accompanies physical abuse or financial exploitation • Physical abuse often accompanies financial abuse

  11. The Perpetrators • Often a family member • Adult child or grandchild • Unemployed • Addicted to alcohol, drugs or gambling • Mentally ill • Paid caregivers, neighbors, or friends

  12. Why Is It Important? • In 2000, 45 million people in U.S. were 60 or older • By 2030, number expected to double • As population grows, so will elder abuse • Physically or mentally impaired elderly more at risk • Early intervention can help prevent further abuse and further trauma

  13. Keys to Effective Intervention • Recognizing signs of abuse • Pursuing criminal investigation • Working jointly with social service agencies

  14. Recognizing Elder Abuse • Victim may be unable or unwilling to tell you abuse is occurring • Relationship to, or fear of, the abuser may affect willingness to pursue arrest • Recognition of signs crucial to successful investigation

  15. Signs in the Victim • Inadequately explained bruises, cuts, burns • Dehydration, malnutrition • Overly medicated or sedated • Unusual confinement • Lack of cleanliness, grooming • Fear of speaking for oneself • Shame, fear, embarrassment

  16. Signs in the Abuser • Gives conflicting stories or implausible explanations for victim’s injuries • Is reluctant to let you interview elderly person alone • Speaks for the elderly person • Handles elderly person roughly • Has a drug or alcohol problem • Has a previous history of abusive behavior • Appears indifferent or angry toward older person • Fails to assist the older person

  17. Signs of Financial Exploitation • Deviations in financial habits • Large bank withdrawals or loans • Numerous unpaid bills • Missing belongings, papers, credit cards • Elder unaware of monthly income • Frequent gifts from elder to caregiver • Caregiver’s refusal to spend money on elder • Checks made out to cash • Misuse of a Power of Attorney • POA is not a health care proxy

  18. Environmental Signs • Lack of food in the home • Lack of heat or electricity • A mistreated or malnourished pet

  19. Responding to Elder Abuse Calls • Respond as to other domestic violence calls • Take same precautions • Be careful of hidden dangers • Interview victim alone • Maintain visual contact with other officers • Victim may not speak honestly if other family members can hear

  20. First Responsibilities • To obtain needed medical services • To determine whether an offense has been committed • To make an arrest (if appropriate • To provide a basis for prosecution (if appropriate • To provide for the well being of the elderly person

  21. Safety Check • Can make the difference between life and death for an infirm elderly person • Is home clean and cared for? • Are there dangerous conditions? Hoarding? • Is there adequate food? • Is refrigerated food spoiled? • Are there dangerous objects in the home • Are there guns in the home of a person with dementia

  22. Referral • Community agencies can provide help with problems of daily living or counseling for distress • Community resources • Local agency on aging • Home delivered meals programs • Adult Protective Services • Senior centers • Alzheimer’s programs • For safety planning: • Domestic Violence agencies • Sexual assault agencies • Crime victim programs

  23. Victim May Not Testify • Reluctant to testify against family member or caregiver • May be unable to testify due to mental or physical impairments, or death • Stop perpetrators before they cause death

  24. Seniors Can Be Fragile • A shove can cause them to fall and break a major bone • If abusers are not prosecuted, it could become murder • Services are available for victim and abuser • Victims need to know that there is help

  25. Charges Must be Proved Without Victim’s Testimony • If victim testifies, evidence will corroborate the allegations • Each charge and identity of abuser must be proven

  26. Photograph • Victim, victim’s injuries • Remove bandages for photos (if serious injury, get doctor’s guidance) • Take photo of victim’s injuries that shows face for identification • Alleged abuser’s injuries or lack of injuries • All bloody/blood stained items • Property damage • Entire home/crime scene • Any property taken into custody

  27. Voucher and Safeguard Evidence • Weapons • Containers of corrosive liquids • Drugs or drug paraphernalia • Bottles/cans from alcoholic • Damaged property • Items used to restrain or gag the victim • Victims and/or abusers diary documenting abuse • Letters with envelopes • Answering machine, voice mail messages

  28. Voucher and Safeguard continued • Clothing, sheets, blankets with blood stains • Place in paper bag • Clothing, sheets, blankets with feces or urine stains • Bloody torn clothing of victim and alleged abuser • Martial arts paraphernalia • Financial documents • Everything

  29. Eye, Ear and Nose Witnesses • To crime charged • To previous instances of abuse • Speak to person who called 911

  30. Excited Utterances • Document excited utterances of victim • Document victim’s demeanor • Check for excited utterances to friends, neighbors, EMS, nurses, doctors, 911 caller

  31. Document Abuser’s Statements • All statements, no matter how insignificant they seem • Check statements made to neighbors, landlord, friends, family, employer, EMS, hospital personnel, jail or parole officers • Read alleged abuser his/her Miranda rights and get a statement

  32. Expert Medical Opinion • Ask for a release from victim to obtain medical records • To explain force required to inflict injury • To give expert opinion as to how injuries were sustained

  33. Documentary Evidence That May be Relevant • Prison records • Home and cell phone records • Parole/probation records • Court records • Previous 911 calls • Police/court records from other jurisdictions • If alleged abuser has been Power of Attorney for other seniors, this could be evidence of targeting seniors

  34. Document Medical Information • Get contact information for all treating physicians and hospitals • Look for repeated injuries or lack of medical attention • Get information about past and present medications • Seize all medications • If victim or caretaker says they are needed, consult a doctor to determine if the medications or combinations are dangerous

  35. Animal Abuse • Has alleged abuser ever injured or killed a family pet? • Animal abuse can be used to terrorize a victim • If pet is neglected, may mean elder is also

  36. Alleged Abuser’s Background • Psychiatric history/hospitalization • Drug/alcohol abuse • Special medications • Has suspect ever threatened other family members?

  37. Be Accurate in Documenting • Can refresh your memory • Avoids cross-examination problems at trial

  38. Be Creative • Use your common sense • Evidence of abuse is not always obvious • Ask yourself why this situation bothers you. Why do you suspect abuse?

  39. Arrest Charges • Some states have special laws to protect the elderly • In New York arrests are usually made using conventional charges

  40. Four Statutes Refer to Elderly and Disabled • Endangering the welfare of an incompetent or physically disabled person, P.L §260.25 • Endangering the welfare of a vulnerable, elderly person in the second degree, P.L. §260.32 • Endangering the welfare of a vulnerable, elderly person in the first degree, P.L. §260.34 • The Hate Crimes Act of 2000 includes age (over 60) and disability as targeting factors that lead to increased penalties.

  41. Conventional Charges • Elder Abuse is not a specific crime or charge • A collection of harmful behaviors that may rise to the level of a crime or violation

  42. Physical Abuse and Neglect • Criminal Possession of a Weapon 4 • Trespass • Coercion • Criminal Contempt (includes violation of an order of protection) • Assault 1 • Intimidation of/Tampering with a Witness • Sex Offenses • Reckless Endangerment

  43. Physical Abuse and Neglect continued • Unlawful Imprisonment • Kidnapping • Rape • Murder

  44. Financial Exploitation • Petit Larceny • Grand Larceny • Grand Larceny by Extortion • Forgery • Scheme to Defraud • Burglary

  45. Emotional Abuse • Disorderly Conduct • Harassment • Stalking Arrest is seldom made for emotional abuse alone. Emotional abuse frequently accompanies other types of abuse

  46. Family Offenses • Family Court Act, Section 812 • Defines family as legally married, formerly married, related by blood, related by marriage (including in-laws) or having a child in common • “Family” members may have specified “family offenses” adjudicated in family court

  47. Family Offenses continued • NYPD expanded definition adds 2 categories • Currently living together in a family type relationship • Formerly lived together in a family type relationship • Family courts do not recognize these categories, cases proceed to criminal court

  48. Family Offense Charges • Menacing • Assault • Disorderly conduct • Reckless Endangerment • Aggravated Harassment • Stalking • Harassment

  49. Charges for Violating an Order of Protection • Criminal Contempt 2 • Criminal Contempt 1 • Aggravated Criminal Contempt Violations of an order of protection are among the easiest to prove in court • Police officer can witness the order was violated • No further evidence may be needed

  50. Mandatory Arrest Policies • Must arrest in • Instances of felonies • Violation of an Order of Protection • Any violation committed in your presence • May use your discretion • In case of misdemeanor, IF victim spontaneously says she does not want the offender arrested • May arrest if there is a potential for continued violence