New 'tool' unveiled to fight elder abuse

Five months after launching the state’s Elder Abuse Task Force, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel and Supreme Court Justice Megan Cavanagh joined law enforcement leaders last week to roll out the first-ever statewide incident report for vulnerable adult abuse.

The standardized report is being introduced with online training to follow for every law enforcement agency across the state, officials said.

Despite Michigan’s growing aging population with more than two 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,” 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 reporting form, Cavanagh said, “sends a message that when it comes to stopping elder abuse, we are on the same page.

“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 by Michigan State Police Col. Joe Gasper, Michigan Sheriffs’ Association Executive Director Blaine Koops, Michigan Chiefs of Police Executive Director Bob Stevenson, among others, 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 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 they could take, 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.

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.