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Program to protect elderly launched

Sandi Hoover
shoover@nevadaappeal.com

Nearly 30 percent of Carson City’s population is 55 years old or older – a statistic that has not escaped the notice of the city’s district attorney.

Neil Rombardo was at the Carson City Senior Center on Monday to launch an aggressive program he initiated to target criminals who prey on seniors and other vulnerable people.

“The message that the sheriff and I want to send to perpetrators is that if you commit a crime against (one of these people), we’re going to do something about it,” Rombardo told a group of about 50 seniors and others. “We’re going to find you, and we’re going to prosecute you to the fullest extent of the law.”

S.A.V.E., an acronym for Stop Abuse of the Vulnerable and Elderly, is a program with a three-pronged approach to these types of crime.

Increasing awareness of situations such as abuse, neglect, isolation or exploitation is the first step, Rombardo said.

A team of experts he assembled also will be critical to the success of the effort. The city’s multi-disciplinary team will consist of the district attorney, Sheriff Ken Furlong, the fire department, health department, the public guardian, elder protective services and an elder rights lawyer.

“We’ll help you out of (a bad) situation, and we’ll help you stay out of the situation,” Rombardo said.

One man, 80-year-old Bernard Santos, said he has been frustrated by getting the run-around from one of the state offices he said he tried to call about issues he believed were serious.

“The biggest problem I find is the listener at the other end who appears not to hear what you want to say,” Santos said.

Mayor Bob Crowell said as people age, they often must rely on others for their well-being, which can leave them open to unscrupulous acts.

“I am personally glad that the district attorney and sheriff have this program. In Carson City, we are not a community of neighborhoods. We’re a community of one neighborhood,” Crowell said.

Furlong said he was thrilled when he heard about Rombardo’s program.

“We need to begin a process of educating our law enforcement personnel to deal with these situations. Young, new officers need re-education. These are not civil matters. These are crimes,” he said.

“We have a growing number of these issues, and now we have a district attorney that is willing to step up and take the gavel and address these problems. I pledge to you that we will begin training these officers, and Carson City will be a better place to live because of it,” Furlong said.

Rombardo and Furlong agree that their goal is for seniors and other vulnerable people to feel safe.

The S.A.V.E. program offers the following services through the District Attorney’s Victim Services Unit:

• Informs and assists victims of crime during the court process.

• Provides transportation and accompaniment to court proceedings.

• Identifies needs of victims and witnesses and provides referrals to community resources.