As the aging population increases, law enforcement officers are responding to an increased number of cases of elder abuse. Too often, elder abuse cases are not recognized or appropriately identified as crimes, which results in inaccurate arrest decisions. Further, inaccurate perceptions about aging, victims, perpetrators, and dynamics/causes of elder abuse can lead to inappropriate or ineffective responses, putting victims at a higher risk of harm.
As first responders, law enforcement officers can play a key role in providing an effective response to abuse in later life at the local level. In many cases, law enforcement can use tools already used in domestic violence, stalking, child abuse, and sexual abuse cases to interview victims and gather evidence. Officers can also benefit from learning about abuse in later life and abuse dynamics; appropriate referral resources for intervention and support for older victims; and working collaboratively with other organizations.