BERGEN COUNTY LEADS NEW JERSEY IN ELDER ABUSE TRAINING & EDUCATION FOR LAW ENFORCEMENT
HACKENSACK, NJ – The County of Bergen, a grantee of the Department of Justice, Office on Violence Against Women, Enhanced Training and Services to End Abuse in Later Life Program, has emerged as a pacesetter in training and coaching for legislation enforcement on elder abuse and exploitation.
The Bergen County Department of Human Services, Division of Senior Services, in partnership with the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office, the Bergen County Sheriff’s Office, and the Bergen County Police Chief’s Association started the rollout of on-line coaching on elder abuse for law enforcement officials and detectives in summer time of 2021. To date, over 600 officers throughout 25 native police departments in Bergen County together with the Bergen County Sheriff’s Office have registered for and are actively finishing the net coaching course.
In the midst of the continuing COVID-19 pandemic, the necessity to safeguard older adults in opposition to abuse and exploitation has by no means been extra essential. An estimated 38% of Bergen County residents are 50 and older, and coaching and training are important within the safety and security of the county’s rising senior inhabitants. According to Bergen County Executive James J. Tedesco III, “This training program gives officers and detectives key information, tools, and resources to aide them in their role in the fight against elder abuse, and the strong response from law enforcement affirms that Bergen County is a place where older adults are kept safe, and where those who perpetrate elder abuse and exploitation are held accountable for their actions.”
Bergen County Sheriff Anthony Cureton stated, “The goal of the program is to help educate officers and detectives on specific issues related to elder abuse that they may not be familiar with, and to prepare them for working with older adult populations.”
The coaching program is the first-of-its variety in New Jersey and consists of 23 quick, interactive modules that educate officers about subjects such because the dynamics of elder abuse, working with older victims and with Adult Protective Services (APS) and different professionals, and victim-centered investigations. Bergen County Prosecutor Mark Musella, whose workplace helped coordinate outreach for the coaching program stated, “We are proud to support this comprehensive training that was developed by a multi-disciplinary team of stakeholders who understand the unique challenges associated with identifying, investigating, and prosecuting crimes against seniors. These crimes are frequently perpetrated behind closed doors and the abuse may not be readily apparent; therefore, it is critical that officers are trained to recognize red flags, to understand the reluctance or inability of victims to participate in the investigative process, and to know what support organizations exist within the community.”
“So often, elder abuse flies below the radar, and the isolation from COVID-19 has only made it worse,” stated Commissioner Chairwoman Tracy S. Zur. “This new training is a game-changer, as our local law enforcement partners will be better equipped to detect and react to support our vulnerable senior citizens.”
The final aim for this program is to attain common adoption amongst Bergen County’s 70 police departments, making certain that each one legislation enforcement officers take part on this necessary coaching.
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