Wednesday, 28 November 2018

Police, Geriatrics Training and the Ageing Population

"Although there is no shortage of literature focusing on strategies for policing different genders, races (sic), and other groups, older populations have not attracted the same attention."
Sever & Youdin (n.d.:2)

“I learned how the elderly feel after going through the simulations. Before I hadn't put myself in their shoes.” a police officer cited in Brown et al., 2017
Police officers in San Francisco were given a lecture on ageing-related health conditions followed by experiantial trainings on how it can feel to be old through simulations (e.g. walking with a cane that was too short). The brief training "increased police officers' self-reported knowledge and skills", gave them empathy, increased patience, awareness and understanding of ageing-related challenges, which is of enormous importance as our population is lucky enough to be ageing. Police are often first responders to incidents with ageing-related problems and need to be able to deal with older adults who "represent an extremely medically vulnerable group" - no matter if older arrestees or older crime victims.
When police lack knowledge about aging‐related health, they risk causing unintended harms to older adults, such as using excessive force to respond to disruptive behavior related to dementia. Yet previous research shows that police receive little training in aging‐related health and have knowledge gaps that may limit their ability to assess and triage older adults. For example, officers engage with older adults who have sensory, cognitive, and functional impairments, but many report challenges in identifying and responding to these conditions. Similarly, officers perform welfare checks for at‐risk isolated older adults but report lacking knowledge about which community resources are available to help.
The training developed for police officers in San Francisco was incorporated into the police department's Crisis Intervention Training, a training that includes lectures about "special populations" (Brown et al, 2017).
One officer stated that the training will help him treat all individuals “as if they were my parents,” highlighting an important outcome of the training: to build empathy. (via)
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- Brown, R., Ahalt, C., Rivera, J., Stijacic Cenzer, I., Wilhelm, A. & Williams, B. A. (2017). Good Cop, Better Cop: Evaluation of a Geriatrics Training Program for Poice. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, 65(8), online
- Sever, B. & Youdin, R. (n.d.). Police Knowledge of Older Populations: The Impact of Training, Experience, and Education, download
- photograph by the great Vivian Maier via