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EMBARGOED until 10:30 a.m., June 20, 2014
Russ Reno, Communications and Legislative Services, (office) 402-471-8287 or (cell) 402-450-7318, or firstname.lastname@example.org
Note to editor: LPD Investigator Cindy Koenig-Warnke will receive the first annual Elder Abuse Prevention Advocate of the Year award for Nebraska on Friday, June 20th, at 10 a.m. at the Downtown Senior Center, 1005 O St., Lincoln. You are invited to attend. Additional information follows.
Inv. Cindy Koenig-Warnke Presented Award for Work to Prevent Elder Abuse
Lincoln – Cindy Koenig-Warnke, investigator in the Lincoln Police Department’s Technical Investigations Unit, was presented Friday (6/20) with the first statewide Annual Elder Abuse Prevention Advocate of the Year award by the Department of Health and Human Services.
Thomas Pristow, DHHS director of Children and Family Services, and Cynthia Brammeier, administrator of the State Unit on Aging, Medicaid and Long-Term Care, made the presentation at the Downtown Senior Center in Lincoln. The award was presented as a part of DHHS’ observance of World Elder Abuse Awareness Day.
Koenig-Warnke was cited for her work at the local and state levels, her tenacity in investigating cases, her genuine care for victims and collaboration with Aging Partners to solve cases and promote greater awareness of elder abuse and neglect.
Pristow praised Koenig-Warnke for her work on the Protection of Vulnerable Adults subcommittee of the Supreme Court’s Commission on Guardianships and Conservatorship. The subcommittee analyzes statutes regarding the abuse and exploitation of vulnerable adults and suggests changes, researches issues, and provides education. In addition, she has worked with AARP to evaluate the Nebraska adult abuse statutes for possible legislation in 2015.
Cindy has assisted the National White Collar Crime Commission as an instructor in Financial Exploitations of the Elderly, as well as financial institutions in Lincoln and Omaha. The Nebraska Banker’s Association placed her presentation on their website for staff at financial institutions across the state to use.
She has helped raise awareness about elder abuse in Nebraska and teaches others to recognize the indicators of abuse, neglect, and exploitation by providing presentations to many local and statewide audiences such as the Coalition for Older Adult Health Promotion, UNL Gerontology Department, State of Nebraska’s Ombudsman’s Annual Conference, State Unit on Aging’s annual statewide Elder Rights and Fraud Prevention Conference, and UNO Aging with Passion and Purpose Conference, and staff at Lincoln hospitals.
The 16 ½ -year veteran officer is a board member on the Elder Rights Coalition through the DHHS Unit on Aging where she helps identify issues facing older adults and their solutions, and conducts training for those who work with older adults.
She also investigates fraud, embezzlement, identify theft, vulnerable adult abuse and other financial crimes. In the past year, Koenig-Warnke has investigated about $1 million in losses to victims. She also works with Joanne Farrell, coordinator with Lincoln’s Aging Partners.
“For the past five years, Cindy and Joanne have maintained the victim’s dignity and respect during investigations,” Brammeier said. “This partnership has helped make victims more comfortable interacting with law enforcement, and they’ve been able to steer victims to services to assist them with their living needs, legal representation and protection against scammers."
The arrangement is recognized in and outside the state as innovative and effective in solving crimes and providing services, she said.
In a letter of nomination, LPD Sgt. Sandra Myers said, “She is an exceptionally talented officer who champions the rights of those who have been exploited. She goes above and beyond what most people would think of doing and is compassionate and caring to all victims.”
The Elder Abuse Prevention Advocate of the Year award is sponsored by the Department of Health and Human Services to recognize Nebraskans across the state who work to protect the elderly.
“The work of many Nebraskans to increase awareness of the signs of elder abuse is important to protect the elderly from abuse and neglect,” said Pristow. “It’s a partnership and we need everyone’s help to identify those who may need our assistance. During this observance of World Elder Abuse Awareness we want all Nebraskans to take extra time and observe the elderly around them to ensure they are physically, mentally and financially healthy and report it to the Adult Abuse and Neglect Hotline if they aren’t. It’s our responsibility.”
“Our elderly deserve no less than our best protection,” Brammeier said. “When friends and loved ones recognize those signs and report it, then we’re able to help them protect the well-being of Nebraska’s elderly citizens.”
Nebraskans are encouraged to watch for elder abuse and, if they suspect it has occurred, to call the Adult Abuse and Neglect Hotline at 1-800-652-1999.
Among the signs of elder abuse, are:
- Unexplained signs of injury such as bruises, welts, or scars, or broken bones, sprains, or dislocations.
- Bruises around breasts or genitals, or torn, stained, or bloody underclothing.
- Unusual weight loss, malnutrition, dehydration.
- Untreated physical problems, such as bed sores, and unsanitary living conditions like dirt, bugs, soiled bedding and clothes.
- Significant withdrawals from the elder’s accounts, or sudden changes in the elder’s financial condition.
- Items or cash missing from the senior’s household.
- Problems with the care facility: poorly trained, poorly paid, or insufficient staff; crowding; inadequate responses to questions about care.
- Reports of drug overdose or apparent failure to take medication regularly (a prescription has more remaining than it should).
If abuse is suspected, call the Adult Abuse and Neglect Hotline at 1-800-652-1999. The call may be anonymous.
Other recipients of the Elder Abuse Prevention of the Year award, include: Lily Hans, southeast Nebraska; Thelma Whitewater, northeast Nebraska; Sheila Kennedy, central Nebraska; Michael Dehart, southeast Nebraska; and Omaha Police Department Detective Richard Belik, eastern Nebraska.