VAPIT teams will focus on combating elder abuse

By | January 3, 2017 6:38 am

A new law effective Jan. 1 aims to combat abuse against some of the most vulnerable population: The elderly.

To do this, the law requires district attorneys general to establish an adult protective investigative team in each judicial district.

The teams will be charged with coordinating the investigation of suspected instances of abuse, neglect or exploitation of an adult and receiving and reviewing information generated by the multi-disciplinary adult protective services evaluation teams.

The team will consist of representatives, including the district attorney general or his designee; local law enforcement agencies; the department of human services’ adult protective services section; and any other entity the district attorney or his designee determines is necessary for the successful operation of the VAPIT.

Each year, the district attorneys will be required to file an annual report with the state that summarizes the work of the VAPIT for the previous year.

District Attorney General Bryant Dunaway says he will be implementing this tool to help better focus on the prevention, detection and prosecution of the abuse of the elderly within this judicial district, which includes Clay, Pickett, Overton, Putnam, Cumberland, White and DeKalb counties.

Dunaway stated that the team will be in place by January and will meet regularly to review reports of elderly abuse and neglect.

“We want to make sure these types of cases do not slip through the cracks and go undetected,” he explained.

“Team members include prosecutors, law enforcement, medical professionals, the Upper Cumberland Family Justice Center and Adult Protective Services. All of these members bring various perspectives to the review of reports of abuse and neglect, which is beneficial to the process,” Dunaway continued.

Dunaway stated that he and other professionals have also participated in a similar team named the Child Protective Investigative Team, which he said has been proven effective in reviewing reports of abuse and neglect of children.

He remarked, “It’s time to extend this type of effective review proves to seniors, as well.”

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