June 30, 2016

Mostly clear

Medina Township police launch elderly care effort

MEDINA TWP. — The township Police Department celebrated World Elder Abuse Awareness Day on Wednesday with “Cops Care,” a program in the works that will help senior citizens avoid being victims of scams and abuses.

Laurie Shoemaker, administrative assistant to Chief David Arbogast, is helping to spearhead the program with a $16,000 grant from Ohio Criminal Justice Services.

The scale of the program will be smaller than hoped due to the grant’s amount, she said, because Arbogast originally requested $48,484.

“We want to get an officer in his cruiser and go door to door and meet with the township’s senior citizens to talk to them face to face,” Shoemaker said. “If we could get 75 percent to meet with our officers … that would be great. We want them to know they can trust us and rely on us for anything they need.”

Arbogast said he sought the grant after the Police Department received a 911 call more than a year ago from an elderly resident who had fallen. When emergency personnel arrived, they were unable to gain entry but could see the resident on the floor. Rescuers had to force open a window.

This particular township resident was a victim of abuse and neglect. She had no running water, no working plumbing, little food and no one to care for her, he said.

“The idea had been on the back burner for a while and that specific 911 call was really the focus of writing the grant. With today being a worldwide awareness day, it’s a kickoff for the following year to come and all the things we want to accomplish,” Arbogast said.

Through the program, township residents older than age 65 would be placed in a database. Officers visiting the senior citizen community would be able to observe possible abuse situations and talk to potential victims about services available. The database would keep track of each senior visited with corresponding notes.

The township’s grant is for one year, but Arbogast said the department plans to continue its efforts for years to come.

“The amount we did receive is considerably less than what we hoped for, but we have been very fortunate for the community support we’ve received. Both the Cornerstone Church and Pastor Jeff Kolodziej and Ed McKeon of the Western Reserve Bank have been very generous with $500 donations each to assist us in our efforts,” Arbogast said.

In a letter to community members, Shoemaker wrote: “In order to meet the needs of this important program, we are requesting the community to consider a donation to fund materials to meet the goals of outreach and crime prevention of our most valuable citizens. All of the monies collected will go to the ‘Cops Care’ program.”

Arbogast said 17 percent of the township’s population will be 65 years of age or older this year.

Residents can call the Police Department at (330) 723-1408 with questions.

Also Wednesday, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Avon, called for the swift passage of the Elder Abuse Victims Act of 2011, which was introduced by U.S. Sen. Herb Kohl, D-Wisc.

During the first three quarters of 2010, there were more than 10,000 incidents of reported abuse in Ohio.

In Medina County, according to an analysis by the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, there were 35 allegations of elder abuse in 2010.

The Elder Abuse Victims Act of 2011, which Brown co-sponsored, would:

• Establish a Justice Department grant program for states to assist them in developing, establishing and operating programs to better respond to cases of elder abuse and exploitation.

• Create an Office of Elder Justice within the Department of Justice responsible for administering the state grants and disseminating information through the new office to appropriate state and local officials.

In order for states to be eligible for the grants, they must establish multidisciplinary task forces, including judicial and legal officers, elder justice advocates, local area agencies on aging, local public and private agencies and entities relating to elder abuse and exploitation.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, seniors throughout the United States lose an estimated $2.6 billion or more annually due to elder financial abuse and exploitation.

Contact Dani Orr at (330) 721-4049 or dorr@medina-gazette.com.