Special to The Hays Daily News
At the 2008 Combating Elder Abuse Financial Exploitation Summit in Olathe today, Attorney General Steve Six outlined plans to target elder abuse, including financial abuse.
Speaking to the group of law enforcement, prosecutors, and other professionals, Six outlined the work of the Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation Unit in the Kansas attorney general's office and their discovery that financial abuse is the most common form of reported elder abuse in Kansas.
"During the ANE Unit's first year, we made a disturbing discovery. Financial exploitation or fiduciary abuse is the most common form of reported elder abuse in our state, but it's not always viewed as a crime," Six said. "We have to change the public's views and make sure it is reported and taken seriously by law enforcement."
The attorney general's office has been working with the Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services and the Kansas Bankers Association on guidelines for identifying and reporting financial abuse. The guidelines will help bank staff and those who work with the elderly determine if a senior is being exploited. The new guidelines will be available soon and will help banks make the proper reports to law enforcement in a timely fashion.
The attorney general's office also partnered with SRS and the Kansas Bankers Association to produce small informational displays that will be placed at teller's windows in banks across the state. The displays will provide information for bank employees about the warning signs of financial abuse, as well as information for seniors to better protect themselves.
The displays will be in banks soon.
"My goal through prevention is to reduce the amount of elder abuse and financial abuse that occurs in Kansas," Six said. "But even with significant prevention efforts, these crimes will still occur. When they do, we must be ready and hold the perpetrators accountable."
Six is also focusing on raising awareness about financial crimes among prosecutors and law enforcement. His office will provide a training class for law enforcement on the investigation of elder abuse and financial abuse. With assistance from the Law Enforcement Training Center, the course will be available statewide through the Telenet online website and via video conference in 17 locations statewide. The class will be taught by a white collar crime investigator with the attorney general's office.
The elder abuse and financial abuse training will help law enforcement learn how to better investigate financial crimes and raise awareness among cops that it is a crime they need to enforce.
"My office is taking steps on many fronts to combat elder abuse and financial abuse of the elderly," Six said. "Working together, we can prevent the abuse and exploitation of Kansas seniors and make our state a better place to live, work, and also retire."