Pat King from the Georgia Department of Human Resources, Division of Aging Services, instructs a class in ACT certification Wednesday at Albany’s Law Enforcement Center. (Staff Photo: Jim West)
ALBANY — The Georgia Department of Human Services launched a special training program Wednesday with the purpose of protecting elderly and disabled adults from crime. The 16-hour course, hosted by the Albany Police Department was set to conclude today, officials said.
The training, presented by the Division of Aging Services, Forensic Unit of DHS, was designed to equip primary and secondary responders with the knowledge and skills to address the needs of at-risk victims or potential victims as part of a multi-disciplinary team, DHS officials say. Completion of the entire course certifies attendees as ACT (At-risk adult Crime Tactics) specialists.
Amanda Carter, forensic specialist with the DHS, said there has been an increase in Georgia and across the nation in crimes against the elderly and disabled, including abuse, neglect and financial exploitation.
“As our population gets older, we’re only going to see these crimes increase,” Carter said. “It’s very important that people responding to these types of crimes know what tools are available to them so they can address the issues.”
Carter said that the perpetrators of crimes against the elderly or disabled are often family members, close acquaintances, institutional care-givers or — in the case of financial exploitation — strangers doing unnecessary home repairs.
Since its inception in 2011, the ACT program has typically conducted one class each month somewhere in the state, Carter said.
According to Carter, the ACT classes are attended by people in a variety of occupations, including law enforcement, officers of the Georgia Department of Corrections, local banks, adult protective services and prosecuting attorneys.
“When a person goes through the class and becomes ACT certified, they become a point of contact for their home agency — sort of subject matter experts,” Carter said.
Areas for discussion during the ACT course include power of attorney, criminal law relating to at-risk adults, what makes a death suspicious, prosecution of crimes against at-risk adults, and undue influence.