I am committed to protecting the elderly. In 2001, the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office created the Elder Abuse Program, dedicated to prosecuting crimes against elderly and vulnerable victims. The Elder Abuse Project focuses on the prevention, investigation, and prosecution of physical and financial crimes against the elderly and other vulnerable adults.
When the Elder Abuse Program first started in 2001, elder abuse cases were often undetected and commonly unreported. Even if the cases were reported, law enforcement and prosecution efforts were not always tailored to address the unique needs of these types of cases. As a result, the perpetrators of these types of crimes went unpunished, and elderly and other vulnerable victims went unprotected.
Seattle and the surrounding King County area have a population of approximately 1.7 million. Nearly 15% of our population is aged 65 or older. This number is expected to double by 2030.
I recognize that as our population ages, that it is increasingly important for prosecution, law enforcement, and social service agencies to work together to develop a specialized approach to handle these cases.
The Elder Abuse Program in our office has been successful in increasing community awareness regarding crimes against the elderly, in developing a formal, specialized training program for law enforcement to help them recognize and investigate these types of cases, and in creating a multi-disciplinary taskforce made up of prosecution, law enforcement, social services, medical experts, advocacy groups, and private industry that has worked collaboratively to increase reporting and to improve response to elder abuse. This taskforce has also improved the quality and availability of services to elder crime victims.
In October 2009, our office, one of seven recipients in the nation, was awarded a federal three-year grant from the Office of Violence Against Women to provide enhanced training to prosecutors, judges, law enforcement, and direct service providers to improve our region’s response to elder abuse cases. This grant represents national recognition of our office’s innovation and leadership in tackling elder abuse cases.