NYC Takes Bold Step To Enhance Safety For Older Adults Embedded In Police Precincts

NYC Mayor Eric Adams, New York City Department for the Aging (NYC Aging) Commissioner Lorraine Cortés-Vázquez.

This includes the New York City Police Department (NYPD) Commissioner Keechant L. Sewell today marked World Elder Abuse Awareness Day by announcing that an older adult liaison has been designated to every police precinct from Harlem to Hollis, as well as every police service area covering New York City Housing Authority developments in the five boroughs. The liaisons will be tasked with connecting victims with support services, educating the public on older adult programs available to them, and informing older New Yorkers on steps they can take to keep themselves safe.

“Sadly, one in 10 adults over age 60 suffers from abuse or neglect or is financially exploited, and, too often, these crimes can often go unreported. But we’re working to end that,” said Mayor Adams. “On World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, we are announcing our latest initiative to protect older New Yorkers: Designating an older adult liaison in every police precinct and service area citywide. These new liaisons will connect victims to support services and work closely with the elder community to identify and address their needs. Older New Yorkers should know that you are not alone, and you do not have to suffer in silence. Your city is here for you, and we will keep you safe. I want to thank NYC Aging Commissioner Cortés-Vázquez, NYPD Commissioner Sewell, and all our partners for their outstanding work in making this new position possible.”

“Establishing older adult liaisons at every police precinct across the five boroughs is yet another step toward making New York City the most age-inclusive city possible,” said Deputy Mayor of Health and Human Services Anne Williams-Isom. “With more than 1.6 million older adults across the city, this new partnership will connect law enforcement with older adult communities to ensure they have the knowledge, support, and connections they need to stay safe and continue thriving.”

“Over 6,000 police officers have gone through trainings to make sure they can identify elder abuse when they see it, and this announcement today is just another step that solidifies our shared commitment to supporting older New Yorkers,” said NYC Aging Commissioner Cortés-Vázquez. “These police liaisons will put a face to the resources and programs available to help keep residents safe. At the same time, we will be using data to identify what crimes against older New Yorkers are occurring and adjust our policies to act accordingly so these residents can continue living independently and safely.”

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“Throughout the five boroughs, the women and men of the New York City Police Department are focused on ensuring that the promise we make to our older residents to maintain their safety and well-being is never broken by incidents of abuse, neglect, or exploitation,” said NYPD Commissioner Sewell. “And today, together with our government and community partners, we are reaffirming our commitment to preventing and ending elder abuse in all of its many forms.”

The idea of new older adult liaisons stemmed from discussions that took place within the “Cabinet for Older New Yorkers,” which Mayor Adams created last year. The NYPD and over 20 other city agencies are members of the Cabinet, and the interagency collaborative aims to realize and institutionalize an age-inclusive New York through structural and systematic solutions.

The older adult liaisons will:

  • Connect older adults to NYC Aging and other city programs and services that they can benefit from;
  • Review complaint reports made to the NYPD involving older adults to provide assistance and follow-up;
  • Educate older adults on the latest crime prevention tips; and
  • Attend precinct community council meetings to help keep the public informed.

Since last August, a similar pilot program has been taking place in NYPD Patrol Borough Manhattan North and in the 5th Police Precinct located in Chinatown, where there have been about 300 referrals a month to NYC Aging’s Elder Justice Program. While NYC Aging’s Elder Justice Program has received over 2,000 referrals throughout the city over the last year, studies still show cases of elder abuse are consistently underreported nationwide.

World Elder Abuse Awareness Day began 17 years ago by the United Nations’ World Health Organization to raise awareness about the abuse, neglect, and other crimes that older people across the globe face.

“Since it was launched on June 15, 2006, by the International Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse and the World Health Organization at the United Nations, World Elder Abuse Awareness Day has helped people throughout the world to understand elder abuse in all its forms, including but not limited to financial, physical and mental/emotional abuse,” said William Dionne, executive director, Carter Burden Network. “With awareness comes understanding and an ability to help elders who are either being abused or who are at risk for abuse. Because elder abuse is often hidden with abused elders reluctant to come forward due to fear of reprisals from their abuser or fear of getting their abuser in trouble or embarrassment at having been abused, an initiative like World Elder Abuse Awareness Day helps bring the abuse of elders to the forefront of the general public and thereby encourage outreach and events to reach those elders being abused so that they know they are not alone and that they can get help.”

“Neighborhood SHOPP marks World Elder Abuse Day with renewed commitment to protecting Older Adults,” said Katherine Martinez, president and CEO, Neighborhood Self Help by Older Persons Project (SHOPP). “SHOPP is dedicated to serving older adults and operating an Elder Justice program. This significant day serves as a reminder to raise awareness about the prevalence of elder abuse and reaffirm our commitment to ensuring the safety and well-being of older adults in our community. As a leading nonprofit organization serving the Bronx for over 40 years, SHOPP strives to prevent and respond to elder abuse, neglect, and exploitation, advocating for the rights and dignity of older adults. With our comprehensive support services, community engagement, and collaborative efforts, we aim to create a safe and inclusive environment for older adults to thrive.”

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“Older adults need compassion, empathy, and a special understanding of their needs, their concerns, their hopes and fears,” said Isabel Ching, LMSW, executive director, Hamilton-Madison House. “On this World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, we welcome that the NYPD, working with NYC Aging, will build that special understanding by assigning an older adult liaison in each precinct to support older New Yorkers. As a community-based organization serving more than 6,000 older New Yorkers a year, we welcome these liaisons who we can connect our clients to, should they need the help of law enforcement.”

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