Categorized | Technology

Safe Seniors program uses DOJ cameras to catch elder abuse

BELLEVUE – A new program in northeastern Wisconsin is using cameras in hopes of keeping senior citizens safe. 

The Safe Seniors Camera Program is a pilot project aiming to help loved ones stop suspected abuse of elderly and disabled people at the hands of in-home caregivers.

Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel announced the launch of the program Tuesday at the Brown County Sheriff’s Office where he was accompanied by Brown County Sheriff John Gossage, Fond du Lac police chief William Lamb and other officials.

The Safe Seniors program is the newest addition to the Schimel administration’s Task Force on Elder Abuse established last year. 

The program allows residents of Brown, Fond du Lac, Outagamie and Winnebago counties worried about potential elder abuse to use a covert camera for 30 days to watch someone they suspect is being harmed by a caregiver at their residence.  

“One in nine seniors have reported being abused, neglected or exploited in the last 12 months, but we also know that elder abuse is drastically unreported,” Schimel said. “These cameras will either give peace of mind to a patient’s family or provide needed evidence to allow law enforcement and public health to immediately intervene and protect the abuse patient.”  

The cameras and their memory cards are owned by the Department of Justice and are provided by designated local law enforcement agencies. Participants are required to save recordings each day and notify local authorities or the Wisconsin Department of Justice of Criminal Investigation of any recordings that might depict misconduct. 

According to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, more than 7,000 reports of elder abuse were made in the state in 2016.

“Six percent of those cases were life-threatening,” Lamb said. “Thirty-three percent of those life-threatening cases ended in the death of those abused.”

With the national elder population on the rise, Gossage said, it’s important law enforcement, health, social services and other agencies work together and use available and evolving technology to protect those who are most vulnerable. 

Gossage said one of the most troubling aspects of elder abuse is that regardless of how hard law enforcement investigates and the state tries to prosecute, many cases of elder abuse go unreported.

“A lot of elderly people fear if they complain, their complaints will either go unheard or they’ll end up in a nursing home somewhere,” he said. “And those with dementia may not be able to remember if they’re been abused.” 

The New Jersey Attorney General’s Office’s success with a similar hidden-camera program prompted the trying it here, Schimel said. He added that while the Wisconsin’s program is starting in the northeast region of the state, the results of the pilot could mean expanding it. 

“There are great caregivers in our communities,” Gossage said. “We just want to weed out those responsible for wrongdoing.” 

Schimel stressed that cameras are not to be hidden in nursing homes and other care facilities as it would violate privacy rules for roommates and in other circumstances.  

Members of the specified communities with concerns about a loved one with a caregiver can apply for the program by contacting the DOJ at 608-267-1313. 

 

Article source: http://www.greenbaypressgazette.com/story/news/2018/02/06/safe-seniors-program-uses-doj-cameras-catch-elder-abuse/310559002/

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