On April 12, 2012 Chief Greg Suhr joined La Casa de las Madres in welcoming 14 Bay Area law enforcement agencies to an Advanced Officer Training on Ending Abuse Later in Life, coordinated by La Casa and hosted by the San Francisco Police Department. The day long training brought together national and local experts on investigation and case building for elder abuse crimes, in an effort to enhance and expand on the expertise of the Investigators at these agencies. Participants not only received presentations from experts in the field, they also worked through real cases from across the United States that highlighted the ongoing epidemic of abuse against persons later in life. Officers took home case law, tools, and resources, in addition to a deeper appreciation for the complexity of these cases and need for enhanced intervention.
Wondering why this is important? San Francisco is home to the largest proportion of older adults of any major city in the United States. And the stakes are high. A victim of abuse later in life not only experiences devastating physical, psychological, verbal, financial, stalking and sexual abuse, but they are at an enhanced risk to lose their independence, dignity, life savings, homes, health and security. Due to these risks, many victims in later life choose not to seek help, and finish out their golden years with violence, neglect and abuse. As the American population ages, experts expect to see the incidence of abuse later in life on the rise.
La Casa has been working hard to address this widespread and hidden issue. The Advanced Officer Training was part of a larger effort to increase awareness, understanding, and services for victims of abuse 50 and older. To date, La Casa has trained over 550 officers on abuse later in life, and served hundreds of victims 50 and older who have been brutalized by caretakers, family, and friends. From the 68 year old survivor of abuse (by her caretaker) who attends the “Women 50 and older Support Group”, to the 81 year old who was beaten by her adult child and housed at La Casa’s Emergency Shelter, victims of all walks of life are finding a refuge at La Casa.
You might also recognize La Casa’s End Abuse Later In Life outreach campaign from the streets of San Francisco. MUNI buses and trains currently display bold ads reading “Is a loved one or caregiver hurting you? Turn to us. You are not alone.” As always, we don’t do this work alone! Our training of law enforcement and community service organizations was completed in partnership with the San Francisco Police Department, the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office, the Institute on Aging, and Adult Protective Services. Law enforcement agencies who participated in the Advanced Detective training include Antioch Police Department (PD), Brisbane PD, Dixon PD, Livermore PD, Martinez PD, Morgan Hill PD, Napa PD, Richmond PD, SF District Attorney’s Office, San Francisco PD, San Leandro PD, San Ramon PD, South San Francisco PD, and Walnut Creek PD.
And we march on – day in and day out – training community providers, law enforcement, and others on this life-threatening issue, and providing life-saving services to victims in need. If you are interested in learning more about this topic or helping victims 50 and older, don’t hesitate to contact us.