Friday, April 20, 2012

Eliot Police Help Make Strides Toward Ending Elder Abuse

The York County Elder Abuse Task Force was recently announced as the recipient of a $5,000 grant from the Huntington Common Charitable Fund, administered by the Kennebunk Savings Bank Foundation. The funds will be used to purchase hidden camera equipment and software, which will be made available to any Police Department in York County for the purpose of investigating suspected cases of Elder Abuse.
The York County Elder Abuse Task Force is a group of committed professionals from many fields, including law enforcement, social services, and legal services for the elderly and financial institutions. They meet monthly at the Eliot Police Department to share knowledge and skills, to serve as a resource to educate the public about elder abuse, and ultimately to eliminate it as a problem in York County.
According to Officer Candice Simeoni of the Eliot Police Department and Chairperson of the Task Force, “Maine is the ‘oldest’ State in the nation. By 2030, 27 percent of our population will be over the age of 65. It is estimated that there are over 12,000 cases of elder abuse in Maine each year.” Simeoni says “elder abuse can come in many forms, including physical, emotional, psychological, financial, neglect and even sexual abuse.”
One of the more difficult aspects of elder abuse is that the person being abused may not be able to speak for him or herself. Family members may suspect that abuse or theft is occurring, but in the absence of evidence it is difficult to prove who is inflicting the abuse. Several Maine police departments have had significant success in solving elder abuse cases with the use of hidden cameras. These cameras, installed with the knowledge and consent of the victim or the victim’s family, can provide the key piece of evidence in breaking the cycle of abuse.
In the current economic environment, with budgets as tight as they are, few police departments in York County have ready access to such cameras. “Thanks to the grant from the Kennebunk Savings Bank Foundation we will be able to buy some of these cameras, and make them freely available to any police department in York County for use in the investigation of suspected elder abuse” explained Simeoni. “We feel that we can not only assist our law enforcement officers in investigating these cases, but more importantly send a very clear message to abusers that these tools are now available to protect our senior citizens,” Simeoni continued.
Since 2007 the Kennebunk Savings Bank Foundation has administered the Huntington Common Charitable Fund and has distributed over $400,000 to area organizations to benefit York County Seniors. Each year, to further charitable work and the building of community, the Huntington Common Charitable Fund for Seniors of the Kennebunk Savings Bank Foundation seeks out projects and programs that will serve and benefit area seniors.
Funded programs have been wide-ranging and have included programs that help to feed seniors through area food pantries and meals programs, support for caregivers, library programs, job funding and various visiting nurse programs to name just a few.
If you are interested in learning more about the York County Elder Abuse Task Force please contact Officer Candice Simeoni at the Eliot Police Department at 207-439-1179 or