Author: The Office of Justice Programs’ National Institute of Justice (NIJ)
By Michele Coppola TechBeat Magazine
Wisconsin has started a pilot program to help people who suspect that an elderly family member is being abused at home by a caretaker.
Under the Safe Seniors Camera Program, the state Department of Justice will provide covert cameras and memory cards to citizens for 30 days through local partner law enforcement agencies. Participants in the program are interviewed, sign a contract and are required to save recordings daily and report misconduct to a local law enforcement agency or the Wisconsin Department of Justice Division of Criminal Investigation.
Seven law enforcement agencies in eastern Wisconsin are participating in the pilot program (Appleton Police Department, Brown County Sheriff’s Office, Fond du Lac Police Department, Grand Chute Police Department, Oshkosh Police Department, Outagami County Sheriff’s Office and Winnebago County Sheriff’s Office).
“If people suspect their senior loved one is being victimized by abuse or neglect, we can set them up with covert cameras with memory cards in the home, and they have to download video from the card daily and if see anything suspicious is happening and if so, notify us,” says Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel. “With the cameras, they can either gather proof that what they suspect is happening, or get peace of mind that something is not happening.”
The cameras do not capture audio on the recording, only video. The program does not apply to nursing homes and other care facilities with multiple patients.
“The numbers gathered by groups that provide professional services to seniors tell us that one in nine seniors has been a victim of abuse, neglect or some type of exploitation in the last 12 months, which is unacceptable,” Schimel says.
In an annual report, the Wisconsin Department of Health Services breaks down primary reasons for calls to agencies regarding abuse, neglect or exploitation of older adults into financial exploitation, physical abuse, emotional abuse, sexual abuse, unreasonable confinement/restraint, neglect by others and self-neglect. The latest report, Wisconsin’s Annual Elder Abuse and Neglect Report: 2016, is available at https://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/publications/p00124-16.pdf.
The state announced the camera program in February 2018, and received a warm reception from organizations that serve the elderly. As of late March, no citizens had signed up for the program, and the state may need to promote the program more to make people aware it is available, according to Schimel.
For more information, contact John Koremenos, director of communications and public affairs for the Wisconsin Department of Justice, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Wisconsin Elder Abuse report by Ed Praetorian on Scribd