More el­derly, dis­abled abuse re­ports in Boul­der County

Rate of the crimes not higher; DA glad to see re­port­ing rise.

The Denver Post - - NEWS - By John Bear

boul­der» The Boul­der County dis­trict at­tor­ney’s of­fice has noted an uptick in re­ports of abuse and ex­ploita­tion of el­derly peo­ple and peo­ple with de­vel­op­men­tal dis­abil­i­ties, but it is cred­it­ing changes in state law that re­quires peo­ple in cer­tain pro­fes­sions to re­port sus­pected abuse, not a higher rate of the crimes.

“We want to see re­port­ing go up,” Dis­trict At­tor­ney Stan Gar­nett said. “It’s an un­der-re­ported crime. We are glad when we see re­port­ing go­ing up, and it’s gone up dra­mat­i­cally.”

A state law that took ef­fect in 2014 re­quires cer­tain pro­fes­sion­als to re­port sus­pected abuse of any­one 70 years old and older. Since July, the same pro­fes­sion­als are re­quired to re­port sus­pected abuse of adults with in­tel­lec­tual and de­vel­op­men­tal dis­abil­i­ties.

A sam­pling of DA’s of­fice re­port num­bers from Septem­ber to Novem­ber for 2011 shows the of­fice re­ceived 40 re­ports. That jumped to about 100 dur­ing the same time pe­riod in 2015, and, af­ter the law changed to in­clude de­vel­op­men­tally dis­abled adults, the num­ber is 160 for that pe­riod this year.

Gar­nett sus­pects that once the fi­nal sta­tis­tics have been tal­lied, the re­ports his of­fice is re­ceiv­ing will have quadru­pled.

“The chal­lenge is all these cases need to be in­ves­ti­gated to de­ter­mine if le­gal ac­tion is ap­pro­pri­ate,” he said. “That is a lot of work, but we will fig­ure out how to get it done.”

He added that it is pos­si­ble that re­sources in­side his of­fice will have to be redi­rected to han­dle the case load, but he said it is a top pri­or­ity, in part, be­cause the pop­u­la­tion in Boul­der County is ag­ing.

Of­fi­cials say that mak­ing mem­bers of the public aware of the prob­lem is part of the work that needs to be done. This month, the DA’s of­fice handed out about 800 “no so­lic­i­ta­tion” signs to el­derly res­i­dents through the Meals on Wheels pro­gram.

“That was to keep peo­ple away from the doorstep of vul­ner­a­ble se­niors,” said deputy dis­trict at­tor­ney Jane Walsh. “We’ve seen ag­gres­sive sales tac­tics like sales com­pa­nies sell­ing pest con­trol or se­cu­rity sys­tems.”

She added that there have also been cases of “dis­trac­tion bur­glar­ies,” dur­ing which a per­son will ring a door­bell, get the vic­tim’s at­ten­tion while an­other per­son goes in a back door or win­dow.

Those types of crimes come in ad­di­tion to var­i­ous tele­phone scams that of­ten tar­get se­niors, Walsh said.

Long­mont po­lice held a train­ing ses­sion for its own of­fi­cers and of­fi­cers from other de­part­ments this year as the new changes came into ef­fect, in part, be­cause much of the in­ves­ti­ga­tion that comes from manda­tory re­port­ing will fall upon po­lice agen­cies.

“We want peo­ple to be aware and re­port these crimes, even if there is just a sus­pi­cion,” Deputy Chief Jeff Satur said. “These types of crimes are un­der-re­ported.”

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