By DANIELLE REID
According to current statistics, older Americans make up the fastest growing segment of the population and by 2025, twenty-five percent of Virginia’s population will be age 60 or older. Because criminals find ways to prey on senior citizens, organizations have been developed to help educate, inform and protect this increasing segment of our population.
One such organization, TRIAD, was established in Louisiana in 1988 when caring individuals from three national organizations joined forces to cooperatively help protect the elderly. The American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) and the National Sheriffs’ Association (NSA) developed a TRIAD cooperative agreement. The term “triad” simply means a group or set of three connected people or things, such as the Trinity.
As other states became aware of TRIAD, they formed their own organizations. TRIAD was brought to Virginia in 1995 by Attorney General Jim Gilmore, who established a state TRIAD coordinating section in his office. Pulaski County originally established their TRIAD in 2016.
According to Lori Saul, Vice President of “Seniors and Law Enforcement Together” (SALT), TRIAD is run by a (20-member) SALT Council. The SALT Council develops, expands, and implements effective crime prevention and education programs for seniors. The Council also works to improve the overall quality of life for seniors in the community. She noted that the last agreement was signed in August 2016; and that the support organizations are very excited to be part of the signing of the reunification of the Pulaski County TRIAD agreement.
County agencies and volunteers held a Signing of the Cooporative Agreement for the Reunification of Pulaski County Triad on Thursday, August 11 at the historic Pulaski Train Station.
Virginia Attorney General Jason S. Miyares was present in Pulaski to reaffirm the cooporative effort of law enforcement agencies (Police, Fire and Sheriffs) as well as interested senior citizens and numerous senior organizations, to protect the elderly.
“Triad recognizes there is a problem and brings the very best of law enforcement, seniors, volunteers and agencies together to inform, educate and protect our most vulnerable population,” stated Miyares. “It is particularly loathsome when we see predators taking advantage of our senior citizens,” he added.
Miyares, whose family escaped from Communist Cuba, recalled how his mother was able to vote for her son when he ran for the Virginia House of Delegates in 2015. Additionally, he is the first Cuban-American elected as Attorney General of the Commonwealth of Virginia.
Miyares continued, “The recent phenonemon that has taken place in the last 50-years is the sense that we no longer honor or trust our senior citizens. Any other culture around the world reveres their seniors because they have a lot of knowledge. Seek the wisdom of those who have gone before you – seek out that knowledge. Age gives you perspective.”
He also noted that there is a lack of gratitude for law enforcement on a national level, stating “We are a good, decent and noble country where people commit hours of volunteering and donations to help others. When we recognize a need, we roll up our sleeves and get to work.”
At this point, Miyares acknowledged members of the Pulaski County Hearts Behind the Badge non-profit organization whose mission is community support and support of law enforcement officers and their families.
Sonia Ramsey, Community Resource Specialist for the Pulaski Police Department, discussed the most prevalent crimes against senior citizens including fraud and elder abuse.
“Keeping the elderly safe is a high priority in Pulaski County,” said Ramsey.
“Over $3 billion in lost funds and 369,000 reported instances of fraud occurred in Virginia. Only one in 44 incidents are reported. Predators get information from sources like the obituaries, but nine out of 10 are not strangers to the victim. These include scams offering subscriptions, asking for charitable donations, TV shopping tricks and sweetheart offers. Elder abuse can be physical, psychological or sexual in nature. One in 10 elderly are abused and nine of the 10 abuses are perpetrated by family or caregivers,” she explained.
Janet Brennend, Long-Term Care Ombudsman and Elder Abuse Prevention Specialist with the New River Valley Agency on Aging, provided closing remarks. She extended deepest appreciation to Miyares and his staff, community leaders, special guests and senior citizens for being present in the relaunching of our area TRIAD.
Brennend summed up the prevailing feelings of the TRIAD reunification participants: “As we close out today’s ceremony, we reaffirm our commitment toward strengthening the relationships between our law enforcement agencies, our senior citizens, and community-based organizations serving our seniors in our endeavor to make our communities safer for our senior population. We reaffirm our dedicated efforts to reduce and eliminate crimes against our seniors by enhancing community outreach, education, fostering collaborations within our communities and supporting crime prevention initiatives.”
For those interested in further involvement with TRIAD, you can Register for TRIAD 2022 Conference, being held October 4 – 6 at Great Wolf Lodge. Reservations must be made before midnight on September 3rd. Call 1-800-551-9653 and ask for group code TRIAD2022 Additional TRIAD information can be found at: https://www.oag.state.va.us/programs-initiatives/triad-seniors