Today, the GBI and the Department of Human Services (DHS) Division of Aging Services (DAS) recognize World Elder Abuse Awareness Day. We send our sincere appreciation to all of those who care for an elder person or an adult with disabilities and to those who protect victims, prevent future abuse, and prosecute offenders.
In February, the GBI created a new task force, called the Crimes Against Disabled Adults and Elderly (CADE) Task Force in cooperation with DAS and the Forensic Special Initiatives Unit (FSIU). FSIU’s designated staff handles most of the education, outreach, and training programs found in GA for primary and secondary responders, including law enforcement, prosecutors, judges, EMS, employees of financial institutions, regulatory/protective/social/victim service agencies, key healthcare providers, coroners, medical examiners, and other professions who respond to the abuse, neglect, and exploitation of at-risk adults.
Combining the efforts of FSIU with the GBI toward the prevention, detection, and protection of at-risk adults from abuse, neglect, and exploitation, creates more efficient and effective state government operations and will better ensure the gaps in such operations are identified and addressed. This collaborative effort between FSIU and the GBI has shown that through these efforts, the number of perpetrators arrested each year continues to increase. The work of the task force is more effective when we support state and local agencies involved in the recognition of and response to elder abuse in addition to multidisciplinary teams comprised of public safety, regulatory, protective, social, medical, mental health, disability, and victim service agencies.
“As we observe World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, we are reminded how important it is to protect one of our most vulnerable populations,” said GBI Director Vic Reynolds. “Every day, the GBI is committed to investigating not only physical abuse, but also financial abuse & exploitation of elderly and at-risk adults.”
DHS Commissioner Robyn A. Crittenden said, “The work of our Forensic Special Initiatives Unit is so crucial to educating first responders and other social service professionals on how to identify abuse, neglect and exploitation cases so we can effectively seek justice for the victims of these crimes and hold perpetrators responsible for their actions. This work requires involvement with so many other agencies and entities, and the CADE Task Force will help us bring all of those players to the same table so we can continue to provide support to identify and prevent crimes against older and disabled adults in our community.”
The CADE task force’s support involves developing and conducting training, providing technical and case assistance, and advancing policy through the identification of gaps in services. This support enhances the ability of agencies across the state to partner with the public who are the eyes and ears in the community. We need to empower victims to report what has happened to them and not be afraid or embarrassed.
Please report any suspicion of abuse, neglect, or exploitation to the local police and Adult Protective Services (APS) at 1-866-55AGING (+1 866-552-4464) option 3 if the victim lives in a private residence, or, if the victim lives in a long-term care facility, contact the local police and the Healthcare Facility Regulation Division with the Department of Community Health at (800) 878-6442. The GBI Watchdesk can also be reached at (800) 597-8477.