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Michigan AG Nessel, Justice Cavanagh and State Law Enforcement Leaders Unveil New Tool in Efforts to Combat Elder Abuse
September 10, 2019
LANSING – Five months after launching the state’s Elder Abuse Task Force, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel and Supreme Court Justice Megan Cavanagh today joined law enforcement’s top leaders to roll out the first-ever statewide incident report for vulnerable adult abuse. The standardized report is being rolled out with online training to follow for every law enforcement agency across the state as part of Michigan’s Elder Abuse Task Force initiatives.
Despite Michigan’s growing aging population with more than 2 million seniors by 2030, Nessel said the state has never had a standardized investigation report for law enforcement to properly document cases of elder abuse.
“For too long, law enforcement agencies have gone without the proper tools to identify, prosecute and rein in elder abuse crimes in our state,” Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel said. “Today, together with the top leaders that represent every law enforcement agency, in addition to prosecutors from around the state, we are providing more robust tools to crack down on elder abuse.”
“This new incident reporting form sends a message that when it comes to stopping elder abuse, we are on the same page,” said Michigan Supreme Court Justice Megan K. Cavanagh. “Our first goal is preventing abuse, but just as important, knowing when abuse occurs and what to do are the critical next steps in making sure seniors are protected from further harm and abusers are held accountable.”
Nessel and Cavanagh were joined today by Michigan State Police Col. Joe Gasper, Michigan Sheriffs’ Association Executive Director Blaine Koops, Michigan Chiefs of Police Executive Director Bob Stevenson, and the Midland, Isabella and Kalamazoo County prosecutors – J. Dee Brooks, David Barberi and Jeffrey Getting – to roll out the Vulnerable Adult Incident Report. It is the first standardized report to help law enforcement officers and prosecutors identify, report and prosecute instances of elder and vulnerable adult abuse.
“This new standardized form is an altogether approach that will bring crimes against our vulnerable and elderly population out from the shadows and better hold people accountable,” said Col. Joe Gasper, director of the Michigan State Police.
The new form identifies important steps for responding law enforcement officers to take if there is suspected abuse to a senior or vulnerable adult – be it physical, emotional or financial – including:
- Determining whether the victim is a vulnerable adult;
- Identifying if there has been physical harm; and
- Documenting physical injuries, possible signs of neglect and/or instances of financial exploitation.
Additionally, the form presents the responding officers with possible actions following the completion of this form, including the notification of Adult Protective Services, calling an ambulance for emergency situations, and collecting any evidence of financial exploitation.
While some areas of the state have a similar form in place, law enforcement leaders noted it is important to ensure there is a statewide standard for reporting and documenting these crimes.
"The standard investigation form is an important next step toward the effective prosecution of elder abuse in Michigan," said J. Dee Brooks, Midland County Prosecuting Attorney and the Prosecutor’s Association of Michigan’s liaison to the Elder Abuse Task Force. "The Elder Abuse Task Force has brought together partners from many diverse backgrounds with a single purpose: finding the best and most effective means to combat elder abuse in Michigan. It has been a real honor for me to serve on it with so many talented individuals."
During the news conference, leaders likened the report to the standard domestic violence created in 1994 and implemented statewide. The form significantly improved the law enforcement response to domestic violence crimes.
“The Michigan Association of Chiefs of police believes that the use of new Elder Abuse Investigation form will result in the gathering of evidence that currently might be missed and create more thorough investigations that will lead to successful prosecutions of those that would pray upon our vulnerable and elder citizens,” said Michigan Chiefs of Police Executive Director Bob Stevenson.
“The Michigan Sheriffs’ Association and our 83 members are proud to support Attorney General Nessel and the Elder Abuse Task Force’s efforts to provide law enforcement officers with the tools they need to prosecute elder abuse crimes, including this new report form and best practices model that law enforcement agencies around the state can implement to properly address this crime that affects so many in our aging population,” Koops added.
Michigan residents can report any signs or concerns about elder abuse to the Attorney General’s office, through its anonymous elder abuse hotline at 800-24-ABUSE (800-242-2873) or online.