Crime against the Elderly
While senior citizens often are perceived as victims of crime, they can be the perpetrators of crimes as well (Gilfillan, 1994, pp. 14-15). Crimes committed by senior citizens, however, may be the result of abnormal aging rather than criminal intent. For example, an elderly may forget to pay for an item in a store, and be charged with shoplifting. An older person may become disoriented and commit a moving traffic violation, such as driving the wrong way on a one-way street. Thus, when police officers respond to incidents involving elderly persons, a determination must be made of whether the offenses could be attributed to the effects of the aging process. If so, the police offer may decide to refer the elderly individuals to a social service agency that can help them. Such discretionary action on the part of a police officer is dependent for effectiveness on the knowledge and experience of the police officers involved. Without proper training, police officers cannot effectively execute such discretionary decision-making. Importantly, such training for police officers must include a component dealing with the aging process in order to deal effectively with elderly citizens, and to know when they require referral. This approach to dealing with criminal behavior by the elderly requires a proactive approach to policing, wherein community needs are anticipated

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