Elder Abuse – A Guide for Law Enforcement

As an elder law attorney, I often receive calls from seniors, or their family members, expressing concern about financial exploitation or other forms of elder abuse.   Often, the only thing that I can do for those callers is to give them the phone numbers for the local Area Agency on Aging, and the appropriate local law enforcement agencies, and hope that justice will be done.

We have been fortunate in Phoenix, AZ to have an experienced detective specifically assigned to investigating claims of Elder Abuse. However, she is only one person, and many of the other cities in our metropolitan area do not have any staff  assigned to this area.  As a result, no matter how much our law enforcement agencies want to investigate these claims,  they may not have the knowledge and experience necessary to identify the necessary issues.

With funding from the Bureau of Justice Assistance of the US Department of Justice, the American Bar Association has developed  a quick guide for law enforcement called Legal Issues Related to Elder Abuse: A Pocket Guide for Law Enforcement. This pocket-sized guide, which is intended for officers to be able to carry with them, contains brief discussions of the legal concepts, documents and tools that can be misused to commit elder abuse or used properly to either prevent abuse or address abuse that may have occurred.  This Guide is available on the ABA website at www.ambar.org/ElderAbuseGuides.

At the same site, law enforcement agencies can also find the larger Desk Guide, which includes more detailed information on the same topics, as well as tips for communicating with older adults and lists of additional resources.

If you have contacts in Law Enforcement or related areas, please them aware of these tools.

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