Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Editorial: TN: Funding, Investigative Resources Focus on Elder Abuse

Crimes against the elderly in Shelby County have increased in recent years, and this baffling trend only promises to get more pronounced as Baby Boomers age.

And Memphis' Plough Foundation and the Shelby County district attorney general's office have intensified their efforts to highlight the trend, provide information and step up enforcement.

Since Jan. 1, the Vulnerable Adult Protective Investigative Team, or VAPIT, a special investigative unit at the Shelby County district attorney's office, has been on the front lines in a battle to deal with elder abuse The unit, mandated by state legislation passed last year, requires a multi-disciplinary response team that is led by each county's district attorney to investigate reports of abuse of the elderly and disabled.

"It's not as if our office has never prosecuted elder-abuse claims," said Shelby District Attorney General Amy Weirich. "What is comforting to prosecutors is that the victims now have more support and someone to lean on."

Two years ago Plough committed $3.4 million over three years to fund elder-abuse programs as part of its Coordinated Response to Elder Abuse, or CREA. It was a sizable commitment for Plough, representing 10 percent of its annual grant-making. All elder issues have accounted for up to 40 percent of grant-making the last two years. The goal has been to engage advocates, law enforcement and the community in an effort to stamp out the abuse.

"Our plan was not created in a vacuum and the community helped shape the plan," Masson said.

Since the VAPIT program started Jan. 1, it has reviewed 500 cases that led to four arrests for elder abuse. While there is no comparable set of cases in previous years, Weirich said she would be "shocked if we had 500 for all of last year."

1 comment:

Finny said...

More task forces are being created and this is good news.