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Senior Citizen Assault Prevention Unit

NCJ Number
FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin Volume: 58 Issue: 3 Dated: (March 1989) Pages: 10-13
R G Zevitz; D M Marlock
Date Published
4 pages
In 1980, the Milwaukee Police Department created the senior citizen assault prevention unit (Gray Squad) to tackle the problem of victimization of the elderly.
The Gray Squad's work involves investigation, deterrence, crime prevention, and community relations. The squad investigates all serious crimes against the elderly. These include a wide array of offense including robbery, purse-snatching, elder abuse, consumer fraud, and confidence games. Data are collected from daily offense reports and analyzed for patterns and trends. This information, together with demographic data, allows crime-area saturation and deployment of resources in a manner that is likely to have the greatest deterrent effect. Patrol activities not only permit officers to respond quickly to crime, but also help reduce fear of crime and increase citizen satisfaction with police. By reducing fear of crime, police also seek to reduce the isolation of the elderly that often may contribute to their victimization. Every detective on the squad devotes at least 10 hours per month to speaking to groups of senior citizens on crime prevention and target-hardening activities, such as burglar-proofing their homes and reducing vulnerability to pickpockets and purse-snatchers. Other lectures alert seniors to consumer fraud and confidence tactics. Through sensitive response to senior victims, special training in interviewing and communicating with the elderly, and other activities, police-senior cooperation has improved, and crime reporting by this population has increased. Photographs and 5 footnotes.