Elder Abuse Cases Rise 50% After New Colorado Law

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In the two years since Colorado made it mandatory to report abuse, neglect, and exploitation of the elderly, the number of cases has jumped 50 percent across the state to 17,743 cases reported in the fiscal year that ended June 30, the Denver Post reports. The jump surprised law enforcement and county adult protective service agencies, who now are learning how to handle cases that often require a special understanding of the victims and the crimes that affect them. More work is coming. In July, it became mandatory to report the abuse, neglect, and exploitation of adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. “It’s daunting, to be honest with you,” said Sgt. Dan Thompson, who leads the Colorado Springs Police Department’s unit that handles crimes against at-risk people. “Obviously, we want to do right by the victims. We want to give them the attention they deserve. There are days we run from one situation to the next to the next to the next.”

No one predicted such a significant increase in the number of cases when the state legislature was considering mandatory reporting, said Mindy Kemp of the Colorado Department of Human Services. In the first year, calls jumped 40 percent to 16,696 from 11,785. “They had planned on a 15 percent increase,” she said of discussions among officials before the law was passed. Of the 17,743 cases reported in fiscal year 2015-2016, 40 percent were because of self-neglect that happened when people became too infirm to care for themselves. Another 20 percent involved exploitation, mostly financial crimes where people are scammed out of money or have it stolen by family. In Denver, police received more than double the number of elder abuse reports during the first year of mandatory reporting. National statistics on the prevalence of elder abuse are hard to come by because state laws have different definitions for the elderly.

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