The Justice Center for the Protection of People with Special Needs Executive Director Denise M. Miranda announced the Justice Center conducted several trainings and presentations in March, 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, New York, Schenectady, and Suffolk 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.

Education and Outreach

The Justice Center works together with provider agencies and their staff to be sure those providing care to people with special needs understand the importance of reporting abuse and neglect, and their obligations under the law. “Those who are responsible for providing care to people with special needs must understand their duty to report incidents of neglect or abuse when they become aware of such incidents,” said Justice Center Deputy Director of Outreach, Prevention, and Support Davin Robinson.

In March, the agency made presentations about the Justice Center and reporting incidents to the CDPC Family Support Group in Schenectady County; and employees of the Nicholas Scopetta Children’s Center in New York County. The Justice Center also met with members of the Special Act Schools during their quarterly meeting in Latham, NY to discuss ongoing training needs of staff at the schools.

Investigative Training

The Justice Center also 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 March, the Justice Center’s Law Enforcement Training Academy (LETA) conducted disability awareness training to 28 NYS Park Police cadets at the Park Police Academy in Albany County. Additionally, LETA trained 36 investigators charged with investigating incidents in facilities operated, licensed, or certified by state agencies the Justice Center oversees.

“In order to conduct a complete andthorough investigation of cases involving people with disabilities, it’s best for investigators to have the latest information and training available,” said Larry Murello, Deputy Director of the Law Enforcement Training Academy. “The Justice Center plays a very important role, making sure our law enforcement partners are better equipped and more aware of the often-unique circumstances involving cases of people with special needs.”

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

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).