St. Paul has appointed its first full-time police investigator dedicated to crimes against the elderly, reports the Star-Tribune. The unit was formed last month in response to an increase in elder absue crimes. Statistics are hard to come by, but St. Paul police say they handled 77 cases of financial crimes against the elderly in 2008, up from 46 in 2006. All crimes against the elderly in St. Paul rose 14 percent from 2007 to 2008, said Assistant Police Chief Kenneth Reed.
The new unit is an example of the way Minnesota is changing under pressure from a demographic wave of gray. The state’s elderly population will more than double by 2030, triggering changes in health care, transportation, housing, family life and even law enforcement. Because crimes against the elderly have unusual and difficult aspects, police say a focused, specialized unit is the best way to protect seniors. Many victims, for example, are at the mercy of their victimizers — often family members — or fear being placed in a nursing home if their victimizer is prosecuted, experts and police say.