The Protecting Seniors from Fraud Act:

Status of the Triad Program

GAO-05-146R: Published: Nov 23, 2004. Publicly Released: Nov 23, 2004.

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Laurie E. Ekstrand
(202) 512-2758
contact@gao.gov

 

Office of Public Affairs
(202) 512-4800
youngc1@gao.gov

The Protecting Seniors from Fraud Act of 2000 directed the Comptroller General to submit a report to Congress on the effectiveness of the Triad program by April 4, 2005. The program, sponsored at the national level by the National Sheriffs' Association (NSA), provides advice, training, and technical assistance to communitybased crime prevention programs for senior citizens but does not fund them. These community-based groups typically are partnerships among local law enforcement officials, seniors, and sometimes other community members to develop and expand crime prevention programs for seniors in their communities. NSA has sponsored the Triad program with funds provided by various Department of Justice (DOJ) grants. The act's provisions included support for the Triad senior fraud prevention program, the dissemination of information to states to raise awareness about the dangers of telemarketing and sweepstakes fraud, and mandates to study crimes against seniors and to collect statistics on crimes disproportionately affecting seniors. With regard to our report, the act specified that it include an analysis of the Triad program and activities, identify impediments to establishing community-based Triad groups across the nation, and make recommendations to improve the effectiveness of the Triad program. In January 2004, NSA received grant funds to continue its Triad program. However, by October 2004, an NSA official told us that they had not completed all their planned activities. In addition, data were not available to determine the effectiveness of the Triad program. Therefore, this letter describes (1) how the Triad program operates at the local level and (2) the current status of NSA's program implementation. In addition, we are providing information on the status of DOJ mandates in the act regarding data on certain crimes against seniors.

NSA publications note that local Triad groups focus on developing partnerships between law enforcement officials and seniors to reduce crime by increasing crime awareness and enhancing law enforcement services, and the structure of these partnerships varies by community. According to NSA's Triad handbook, local Triad groups can develop and implement different programs to meet their respective communities' needs regarding senior crime prevention. According to NSA Triad publications, the structure of local Triad groups is flexible and can vary by the senior population and jurisdiction of law enforcement authorities in the geographic area. In less populated rural areas, there may be only a few law enforcement officers from a single organization available to be involved with Triad activities. In urban areas, there are potentially dozens of law enforcement agencies that could participate in Triad activities. NSA officials told us that in addition to linking law enforcement officials and seniors, local Triad groups could also include other community members, such as social service providers for seniors, local government representatives, business community members, health care providers, and clergy. An NSA official told us that they are currently taking steps to support local Triad groups by increasing training opportunities and further expanding the number of communities participating in the Triad program. Specifically, in November 2003, NSA had received a grant in the amount of $993,497 from DOJ's Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) for the Triad program, but as of October 2004, an NSA official told us that they had not yet implemented all of the activities outlined in the grant documents, such as revising the Triad handbook.

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