Police Unit Will Focus on Crimes against Elderly

By Cotter, Barbara | The Gazette (Colorado Springs, CO), June 9, 2012 | Go to article overview

Police Unit Will Focus on Crimes against Elderly


Cotter, Barbara, The Gazette (Colorado Springs, CO)


It's not as if the Colorado Springs Police Department has been ignoring crimes against the elderly through the years. Since about 2000, the department has done training with officers and community partners on the issue.

It's worked with agencies that serve the elderly, and been part of a community-wide collaborative to prevent elder abuse.

But this month, police ramped things up with the creation of a special unit that will focus on crimes against people 60 and older. It has a dedicated detective, Charles "Chuck" Szatkowski, and a mission to work even more closely with agencies including Silver Key Senior Services and the El Paso County Department of Human Services' Adult Protection Services.

"It really brings us expertise," said Lt. Howard Black, head of the Special Victims Section, which includes the Crimes Against Elders Unit. "A lot of cops understand it, but they're so busy. Chuck is going to be able to focus down with our partners and get support around victims and keep them safe. That is huge."

It also is an idea whose time has come, police said. Economist Tucker Hart Adams has estimated that the area's population of people ages 65 and older will skyrocket to 172,394 in 2040, from 61,788 in 2010.

From 2010-11, police had 3,704 documented cases related to elder crime, Szatkowski said. Some of the crimes, such as vehicle theft and burglary, were not tied to the victim's age.

But police have seen enough vulnerable seniors victimized by family, friends and scam artists to realize the need for the special unit, which is being staffed through existing resources.

"Under Chief (Pete) Carey's watch, he has seen this to be an issue that we need to put resources into," Black said. "And for us to start a program with no grant money - the chief sees the merit of how important this is."

The department's heightened awareness about crimes against the elderly goes back to about 2000, when Black and others from Colorado Springs, including a former district attorney, went to Washington, D. …

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