The Justice Center for the Protection of People with Special Needs Executive Director Denise M. Miranda announced that the Justice Center conducted several trainings and presentations in April, as part of the agency’s ongoing efforts to educate provider agencies and caregivers about incident reporting and the Justice Center’s abuse prevention initiatives, and to enhance the knowledge and skills of investigators.

The Justice Center conducted the training sessions and education and outreach presentations at locations in Albany, Onondaga, Rockland, Schenectady and Westchester counties to staff and investigators employed by both state and non-state operated service providers. Some presentations were made in conjunction with service provider agencies under the jurisdiction of the Justice Center.

Investigative Training

The Justice Center trains investigators and law enforcement personnel on appropriate and effective methods to investigate allegations that people with special needs have been abused or neglected.

In April, the Office of Investigations presented two sessions for investigators entitled, “Investigating Allegations of Abuse, Neglect and Significant Incidents in State Oversight Agency Licensed and Operated Programs.” The sessions were offered in Syracuse and Schenectady. Among those completing the two-day course were a total of 47 investigators employed by other New York State oversight agencies, not-for-profit service providers, or schools and facilities located out of state, which provide care for New Yorkers and are subject to Justice Center oversight.  

“When investigators pursue cases involving people with special needs, their work is greatly aided by the latest information and techniques we provide them,” said Larry Murello, Deputy Director of the Law Enforcement Training Academy. “With the right tools at their disposal, investigators can better understand the often-unique conditions that surround cases of those with special needs.”

You can view the Justice Center’s training schedule here: https://www.justicecenter.ny.gov/media/news/training-opportunities.

Education and Outreach

The Justice Center also works in partnership with provider agencies and their staff in training everyone involved with the care of people with special needs about the importance of reporting abuse and neglect, and their obligations under the law. “We at the Justice Center understand the unique challenges faced by employees who serve people with disabilities,” said Justice Center Deputy Director of Outreach, Prevention, and Support Davin Robinson. “This is why we work hard to be sure staff has all the information they need to do their jobs, and to understand what their legal responsibilities are when witnessing incidents of abuse and neglect.”

In April, the Justice Center made presentations to direct care staff at the Devereux Foundation in Dutchess County and Northern Rivers School in Schenectady County. Presentations were also given about the Justice Center’s Individuals, Family and Support program in Albany County and about the Surrogate Decision-Making Committee in Westchester County. The Justice Center additionally provided information to staff of the NYS Office of Children and Family Services on the requirements of mandated reporting in Rockland County.

The Justice Center’s goal is to prevent mistreatment of people with special needs and to ensure all allegations of abuse or neglect are reported and fully investigated. The Justice Center investigates, reviews and makes findings when it receives reports of abuse and neglect by staff – including employees, volunteers, interns, consultants, or contractors – against individuals who receive services.  

The Justice Center’s primary purpose and responsibility is to protect the health, safety and welfare of people with special needs who receive services or supports from state operated, certified or licensed facilities and programs. The Justice Center oversees facilities or programs operated, licensed or certified by the Office for People With Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD), Office of Mental Health (OMH), Department of Health (DOH), Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS), Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS), and the State Education Department (SED).