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 February, 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, Bronx, and New York 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 February, the Justice Center’s Law Enforcement Training Academy (LETA) conducted a session on “Investigating Allegations of Abuse, Neglect and Significant Incidents in State Licensed and Operated Programs.”  Twenty-four staff investigators from provider agencies attended this two-day training. LETA also produced and issued a webinar for all Justice Center Office of Investigations staff on evidence evaluation and preparation of Justice Center investigation reports.

“Investigators are in a superior position to successfully pursue their cases when they have all of the necessary and latest information at their disposal,” said Larry Murello, Deputy Director of the Law Enforcement Training Academy.” The Justice Center helps to provide them this information, ensuring that investigators can better understand the often-unique conditions concerning 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. “People who serve those with disabilities have an incredibly important responsibility to protect the people in their care from abuse and neglect. In order to uphold this responsibility, it is essential that staff understand what needs to be done if you witness incidents of abuse and neglect,” said Justice Center Deputy Director of Outreach, Prevention, and Support Davin Robinson.

In February, the Justice Center made presentations at the Albany Law School to licensed attorneys as part of their continuing legal education process on the Surrogate Decision Making program; employees who serve persons with intellectual disabilities at YAI of New York City; employees of the Bronx Psychiatric Center; and the Provider Association of the NYS Office of People with Developmental Disabilities.

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).