HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – Protecting Dauphin County’s silver has a new gold standard. Commissioners approved the hire of a lead detective to investigate elder abuse cases.
Detective Roxanne Snider likes to say there are two vulnerable populations more susceptible to abuse; children and the elderly. As a former police officer in State College and most recently the supervisor for the Dauphin County Department of Aging, the young detective has had vast experience in both realms.
On Wednesday, Dauphin County Commissioners approved Snider as the lead detective for the county’s Elder Abuse Task Force. Earning an annual salary of $57,200, Snider will focus solely on cases involving elder abuse.
“It’s a bad day for those who are going to victimize those individuals in the future,” Commissioner Mike Pries said.
Dauphin County had been a model for the state when the Elder Abuse Task Force began in 2004, but the team had no specific leader. Dauphin County Criminal Investigative Division Chief Detective John Goshert said Snider’s background is akin to a “five-tool baseball player” when it comes to this matter.
“I’m passionate about protecting [the elderly] and being a voice for them,” Snider said.
County officials said there were 450 reported cases of elder abuse in 2014. More than half were substantiated claims. Since 2004, the cases represent a 157 percent increase.
Snider said the number reflects two things: awareness and reality. She said more people are aware of the problem and are reporting the cases more frequently, which is one reason why numbers are up. Snider said another reason is that the county’s elderly population is growing, which makes many easy targets for criminals.
“I think the problem is growing,” she said. “I don’t think it’s going away. It’s just going to get worse.”
People 65 and older make up 14 percent of the county’s population, according to the latest census. National statistics show that section of society will continue to grow as modern medicine improves.
District Attorney Ed Marsico said Snider’s hire would improve investigations for law enforcement and help build cases for prosecutors. He said elder abuse comes in many forms such as physical, theft, and neglect.
“They’re tragic all around,” he said. “A lot of times they involve family members.”
Snider echoed Marsico’s statements as she discussed her own experience with elder abuse cases. She said her new role would make a difference.
“I have a little more authority to be able to hold people accountable who are taking advantage of our seniors,” she said.
Commissioners said Snider’s commitment and dedication should be taken as a warning to those taking advantage of the elderly.
“The family’s dirty little secret to insuring that we’ve got protection for seniors and we make sure that they’re not continued to be victimized and have the ability to live out their life with dignity,” Commissioner George Hartwick III said.