Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum wants state lawmakers to fund a new set of investigators specializing in elder abuse cases. It comes as more than 150 prosecutors, attorneys and law enforcement officers meet to discuss elder abuse in Salem Tuesday.
Elder abuse can take the form of neglect, financial exploitation or outright physical abuse. Rosenblum said there were more than 38,000 reports of possible elder abuse in Oregon in 2014, but few prosecutions.
The people most likely to become victims are the least likely to be able to testify in court.
"They're not going to be able to articulate exactly what happened perhaps,” Rosenblum said. “They may not remember, or simply just not be able to be the kind of witness you need in a court type of setting."
Rosenblum wants state lawmakers to fund three elder abuse positions in the Oregon Department of Justice. The new employees would train local prosecutors and law enforcement to recognize and investigate possible cases.
Rosenblum made a similar request in 2015 but lawmakers didn't fund the positions. The cost of staffing the positions would be about $338,000 per year.
The Oregon Legislature will consider the request when it meets for a 35-day session beginning February 1.