Pierce County has been awarded $370,985 from the Department of Justice to support a comprehensive approach to addressing elder abuse. The Prosecutor’s Office, which secured one of nine nationwide grants, will team up with local law enforcement agencies and victim service organizations to increase and strengthen training, form a community response team and access to victim services.
“We are leading an effort to bring stakeholders together,” said Prosecutor Mark Lindquist. “This will make our community safer for our elderly citizens.”
Over the next three years, police, prosecutors and judges will receive specialized training in recognizing, investigating, and prosecuting instances of abuse, neglect, exploitation, domestic violence and sexual assault against elderly victims. Local organizations and government agencies that work with and provide support services for elderly victims will also receive training.
“Historically, elder abuse cases have slipped through the cracks because law enforcement, prosecutors and service providers lacked the training and resources to respond effectively,” said Elder Abuse Team Chief Erika Nohavec. “This grant project is designed to fill in the gaps so we can respond to elder abuse in a way that is focused on victim safety and offender accountability.”
The grant will fund the creation of a coordinated community response team, comprised of experts from a variety of disciplines who will work together to develop a comprehensive plan to respond to elder abuse in Pierce County. The team will be able to quickly respond to victim safety concerns, connect victims to vital services, preserve evidence and apprehend the perpetrator if necessary.
The Prosecutor’s Office formed an Elder Abuse Unit in 2011, and is committed to vigorously prosecuting crimes against elderly citizens. Elderly victims are often targeted because they can be trusting, may have declining health and memory, and are often hesitant to report abuse, especially if the offender is a family member. In the first five years of its existence, the unit has prosecuted nearly 250 cases of elder abuse.