The Michigan uniform investigative and reporting form will be sent to police departments by state law enforcement associations. They will also receive a list of best practices for elder abuse investigations and videos to assist in training on those best practices, according to The Detroit News’ recent article, “Mich. task force rolls out new elder abuse reporting form.”
“People are not getting caught and this is one of the reasons,” Attorney General Dana Nessel said at a press conference announcing the initiative Tuesday. The model’s development is part of the ongoing work of the Elder Abuse Task Force established this year.
The Attorney General remarked that the form will bring some clarity to what can be, a complicated investigation. Law enforcement must look for signs of physical abuse or neglect, as well as financial evidence from banks, legal documents and purchases.
“People will know now that law enforcement is really paying attention to crimes that earlier, it wasn’t that they didn’t care about, it was that they needed assistance in identifying these crimes,” Nessel said. “Now people know that they’re watching these types of offenses.”
Michigan doesn’t have a specific elder abuse statute, so many elder abuse cases are investigated using a standard police report form that looks to establish whether the suspected crime could fall under the vulnerable adult statute, said Assistant Attorney General Scott Teter, division chief for the department’s Financial Crimes Unit.
“It’s a very complex crime,” Teter said. “There’s not a lot of teaching in the police academy on it.”
The program helps to create best practices across the state for the investigation and prosecution of elder abuse, according to Michigan State Police Director Joe Gasper. He said that it’s similar to a standardized form created in 1994 to help law enforcement investigating domestic violence cases.
“The form aids in identifying not only physical abuse but financial abuse,” Gasper said. “This will be a good foundation for all law enforcement to follow.”
The new form will prompt officers to identify items that may qualify a person as a vulnerable adult, like if they need assistance walking, cooking, bathing, driving, or taking medication. Officers will use a checklist for potential signs of physical risks, like bodily injury, dehydration, soiled conditions, bad odors or malnutrition. The form also requires officers to find out if a senior is at risk of financial harm through a “parasitic” caregiver, poor care, the person controlling the victim’s bank account, or through legal provisions that remove an individual’s decision-making capacity, such as guardianships, conservatorships or power of attorney.
Among the evidence collected in a financial harm investigation are copies of all legal documents, financial statements, vehicle titles and photographs of the senior’s living conditions.
Reference: The Detroit News (September 10, 2019) “Mich. task force rolls out new elder abuse reporting form”