Preventing Crimes Against the Elderly
“An Ounce of Prevention is Worth a Pound of Cure”
The Office of Monroe County Prosecuting Attorney Chris Gaal has organized several public education efforts that focus on the prevention of crimes disproportionately affecting the elderly population. Each initiative has included informational videos, fact sheets, written articles and public presentations. These campaigns provide people with tools they need in order to avoid problems, and information about where to turn for help if a problem occurs. Follow the links below to learn more.
Hiring a Caregiver
Home Improvement Fraud
Power of Attorney
Monroe County Pharmaceutical Safe Disposal Program
Have you looked in your medicine cabinet lately? Chances are, like most people, you have a box full of left-over pills. Some of them may even be controlled substances. Do you really need these hanging around? Are you worried about them finding their way into the wrong hands? How do you get rid of them safely? Now Monroe County residents have a year-round and easily accessible safe disposal alternative for pharmaceutical drugs – that includes controlled substances. The Monroe County Pharmaceutical Safe Disposal Program’s mission is to collect and properly dispose of unused, unwanted or expired pharmaceutical drugs and controlled substances in order to reduce the risk of illegal diversion, drug abuse, overdose, and environmental risks resulting from improper disposal. Learn more »
Adult Protective Services
The Monroe County Prosecutor’s Office runs the Adult Protective Services (APS) program for Unit 10 covering Monroe, Owen, and Morgan Counties. Adult Protective Services investigates reports of endangered adults and may take legal action to protect elderly and disabled victims. Learn more »
TRIAD’s mission is reducing criminal victimization of older persons; improving quality of life for older adults; educating and involving the community in implementing solutions; and enhancing delivery of law enforcement services to the elderly. Learn more »
More about Crimes Against the Elderly
Proclamation in Support of Addressing Crimes Against the Elderly as a Community Priority. – March 3, 2010
PROCLAMATION IN SUPPORT OF ADDRESSING CRIMES AGAINST THE ELDERLY AS A COMMUNITY PRIORITY
Whereas, we are aging as a society such that the elderly now comprise a higher percentage of the population that in the past, and
Whereas, Bloomington, Indiana has been recognized as an attractive retirement destination with a desirable quality of life, recreational opportunities, and ample entertainment amenities, and
Whereas, the good reputation of our community as a retirement destination depends upon a continued local commitment to public safety issues that affect the elderly population, and
Whereas, the National Center on Elder Abuse estimates that for every one case of elder abuse, neglect or exploitation that is reported, an additional five more are unreported, such that an additional emphasis on crimes against the elderly is an important priority for law enforcement, and
Whereas, the development of a broad coalition that draws upon the resources of local government, law enforcement, social service agencies, and other community organizations provides a valuable strategy to address the public safety needs of the elderly, and
Whereas, Bloomington is an active community with a number of organizations that specifically work to address the needs of the elderly including the local chapter of the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), Area 10 Agency on Aging, the Retired Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP), and
Whereas, the National Association of Triads is an organization that calls for a shared commitment by law enforcement and senior organizations to work together to reduce elder victimization, increase law enforcement services to older persons, develop and implement crime prevention and education programs, and facilitate information exchange between law enforcement and older persons, and
Whereas, a local Triad organization currently exists in Monroe County to fulfill this mission and includes representatives from AARP, Area 10, RSVP, the Active Aging Coalition, among others, and
Whereas, the Prosecutor’s Office sponsored a full day training for law enforcement and community organizations to address Crimes Against the Elderly at City Hall on April 27, 2007, organized an Elder Crimes Task Force, has developed public education and crime prevention initiatives on Financial Exploitation, Home Improvement Fraud, and Identity Theft, and staffs the Adult Protective Services program for Area 10 to investigate reports of endangered or abused adults, and
Whereas, the National Sheriff’s Association, the International Association of Chiefs of Police have agreed to undertake joint activity, renewing their emphasis on the needs and concerns of senior citizens, and have adopted a resolution encouraging the continuation of a senior advisory councils to work with law enforcement, and
Whereas, in December 2009 the City of Bloomington established a Commission on Aging to encourage the development of programming, explore issues and concerns, celebrate accomplishments, promote solutions to the problems and challenges and work in collaboration with other community organization to promote public awareness of the senior and aging community, and
Whereas, the Attorney General of the State of Indiana actively supports projects that prevent crime and victimization of older Hoosiers, and
Whereas, local law enforcement and Triad wish to formalize an agreement to work together to better address the public safety needs of elderly members of our community.
Therefore, be it resolved that the City of Bloomington, the Office of the Monroe County Prosecuting Attorney, the Bloomington Police Department, the Monroe County Sheriff’s Department, and Triad shall formalize an agreement whereby they will commit to working jointly to raise the consciousness of the community to the needs and concerns of senior citizens by developing and implementing policies and programs to reduce the criminal victimization of senior citizens, serve the special needs of older crime victims, and enhance the delivery of law enforcement services to the elderly.
This 3rd day of March, 2010.
Mayor Mark Kruzan
Crimes Against the Elderly – Chris Gaal, Monroe County Prosecutor, 2008
Crimes Against the Elderly
Monroe County Prosecuting Attorney
You hear a knock at the door. The person urgently tells you there is a problem with your roof that will start to leak and cause major damage if not repaired soon. He asks to come inside. He explains that he was doing a job up the street and noticed the problem. He has materials left over and can do the job cheap and save you a lot of money – but you have to act fast. He can be back in two weeks with his cousin and get started – if you pay two thousand dollars up front. Somehow, he convinces you this is a good idea. You part with your money. Two weeks go by. The phone number he gave you is disconnected. The money is gone. You realize you are victim of Home Improvement Fraud.
You are having trouble getting around, paying bills, and going to the bank. Your nephew suggests he help manage your bank account. He shows you “Power of Attorney” document. You’re not sure if this is a good idea, but eventually you sign it. Pretty soon you notice that your bank balance is dropping. You’re not sure what he’s spending the money on – whether it is for your bills or for himself. He won’t tell you what he’s doing. You’re not sure if you can make him stop, because you gave him the legal authority to write checks for you. You now realize that you are the victim of Financial Exploitation.
These are classic examples of crimes against the elderly. The National Center for Elder Abuse estimates that for every one case of elder abuse, neglect or exploitation, five more go unreported. Traditionally prosecutors have viewed matters such as financial exploitation and home improvement fraud as civil matters rather than criminal – telling victims to go get a private lawyer and file suit.
There are several problems with the traditional response. Often the perpetrator goes out of business or becomes bankrupt – leaving no money for the victim to recover in a private lawsuit. If those cases are not prosecuted, the message gets out in the community that you can get away with crimes against the elderly. On the other hand, investigating and prosecuting such cases, referring them to mediation, or even just media attention and a public focus on such problems – all has a deterrent effect. It lets people know that if they are tempted to take advantage of an older person they could get in trouble. The new message is that home improvement fraud and financial exploitation can be criminal acts that result in prosecution.
Focusing on crimes against the elderly is important to this community. Monroe County has developed a reputation as an attractive retirement destination with a high quality of life, along with abundant recreation and entertainment amenities. But that quality of life can only be enjoyed to the extent there is a real commitment to public safety. What’s more, we are aging as a society. The elderly comprise a higher percentage of the population. It’s only natural that public safety issues affecting this segment of the population should become an area of growing emphasis.
Finally, this is an area where we can have a significant impact by drawing on the diverse resources available in this community, and developing public awareness campaigns and crime prevention strategies. So far we’ve done the following:
We organized a full day training on Crimes Against the Elderly for local law enforcement agencies and community organizations. We also added an additional staff person funded by a state grant to our Adult Protective Services program, that will enable more investigations in the field. We proposed an Elder Crimes Task Force, the purpose of which is to 1) emphasize the crimes against the elderly as a community priority, 2) foster ongoing communication between the prosecutor’s office and local law enforcement regarding the investigation and prosecution of such crimes, and 3) promote greater cooperation with community organizations concerned with the needs of the elderly.
The first big project was a video entitled “Power of Attorney: What You Need To Know,” which explained that the person named in the document to manage finances can’t spend the money on themselves, must spend the money for the benefit of the account owner, must keep records and receipts, and must provide an accounting. Through this public education campaign we hoped to prevent financial exploitation from occurring in the first place, rather than just reacting after the fact. The project was a joint effort between the Prosecutor’s Office, Indiana Legal Services, and the Bloomington Hospital. We distributed over three hundred free copies, and have made educational presentations throughout the community.
We are currently working on a new project aimed at raising awareness about Home Improvement Fraud. This video will explain legal topics such as: Choosing a Good Contractor, Talking to Contractors, Checking References, Red Flags to Watch Out For, Getting a Written Contract, Payment Issues, Financing Issues, Dealing With Liens, Building Permits, Resolving Problems, and Home Improvement Fraud. We also hope to create a new community resource that will allow homeowners to resolve disputes with home improvement contractors quickly and efficiently through mediation without the time and expense of filing a lawsuit. The Home Improvement Contractor Mediation Program will be a cooperative effort with the Community Justice and Mediation Center – local non-profit social service agency.
Since taking office as Monroe County Prosecuting Attorney, I have sought to increase public awareness of crimes against the elderly, and direct additional resources toward solutions. I strongly believe that by working together as a community we can raise awareness, prevent future harm, and develop a more effective response. I invite you to work with us in these ongoing efforts as we make this a safer community for all our residents.
Crimes Against the Elderly – Training Agenda, April 27, 2007
CRIMES AGAINST THE ELDERLY
Training for Law Enforcement and Community
3 Continuing Education Units
City Hall, Bloomington, Indiana University
Date: Friday, April 27, 2007
8:00 to 8:15 am (15 minutes)
Chris Gaal, Monroe County Prosecuting Attorney
Mark Kruzan, Mayor, Bloomington
8:15 to 9:00 am (45 minutes)
The Growing Importance of Crimes Against the Elderly
Patrick Calkins, Indiana Adult Protective Services
Steve Smith, Director, Indiana Division on Aging
9:00 to 10 am (1 hour)
Lt. Michael Morphet, Logansport Police Department
Statutes Addressing Crimes Against the Elderly,
Adult Protective Services Law
10:15: to 12:15 pm (1 hour)
Statutes Addressing Crimes Against the Elderly,
Adult Protective Services Law
12:15 to 1:15 pm LUNCH
1:15 to 3:00 pm (1 hour 45 minutes)
Anne Flannelly, Supervising Attorney General
The Role of the Attorney General’s Office in Fraud and Abuse Cases
Assistance Available to Law Enforcement in Investigation of Medicaid Fraud
3:15 to 5 pm (1 hour 45 minutes)
Robert Miller, Chief Deputy Prosecuting Attorney, Monroe County
Evidentiary Issues for Successful Prosecution of Crimes Against the Elderly
Documenting the Case Involving an Incapacitated Victim/Witness
Invite representatives from Bloomington Police Department, Sheriff’s Department, Ellettsville Police Department, Indiana State Police, and Indiana University Police Department to attend full day training on Crimes Against the Elderly. Request each department to designate one detective to serve on an “Elder Crimes Task Force.” A representative from the prosecutor’s office (felony deputy and victim’s assistance director) and local adult protective services would also serve on the task force, along with representatives from the community. TRIAD is an organization that already exists consisting of law enforcement, social service agencies and senior citizens. TRIAD’s mission is to “focus on reducing criminal victimization of older persons and enhancing the delivery of law enforcement services to these individuals.” TRIAD includes public education efforts in the community. The Elder Crimes Task Force will meet with TRIAD on a quarterly basis, the Prosecutor’s Office will provide administrative support to send out notice of meetings, agenda items, minutes. The purpose of such regular meetings are to emphasize the importance of crimes against the elderly as a community priority, promote ongoing communication between law enforcement and the prosecutor’s office regarding the investigation and prosecution of crimes against the elderly in our community, and to provide an avenue for public input from community organizations, victim’s advocates and other stakeholders. It is recommended that community representatives attend the training and be invited to participate in meetings with the Elder Crimes Task Force/TRIAD. Community organizations include the following: hospital social workers, nursing home staff, Area 10 Agency on Aging, Home Health Agencies, City of Bloomington (Mayor’s Office – Maria Heslin, Community & Family Resources – Pete Giordano, Safe & Civil City), Middle Way House, Senior Center (Paula McDevitt), Phil Stafford, Retired Senior Volunteer Program.
Proposed Planning Team: