The Justice Center for the Protection of People with Special Needs, as part of the agency’s ongoing efforts to educate provider agencies about its abuse prevention initiatives and enhance the knowledge and skills of their investigators conducted a number of trainings and presentations throughout the state in May. 

The training sessions and education and outreach presentations were made at locations in Albany County, Broome County, Dutchess County, Jefferson County, Niagara County, Onondaga County, Otsego County, Saratoga County, New York City, Ulster County, Warren County and Westchester County 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 is statutorily empowered to provide training to investigators and law enforcement personnel on appropriate and effective methods to investigate allegations that people with special needs have been abused or neglected.

“The Justice Center’s Law Enforcement and Training Academy provides important training and information for people whose job it is to investigate incidents of abuse and neglect,” said Director Lawrence Murello. “With appropriate training, investigators employed by providers and state agencies will have the tools necessary to complete thorough and effective investigations.”

The Law Enforcement Training Academy provided training in the Capital District and Washington County to officials and investigators employed by the five state agencies the Justice Center oversees and private providers. A total of 207 individuals received training in disability awareness, and how to investigate cases of abuse, neglect and significant incidents. It included instruction on evidence collection, deception detection, interviews of people with disabilities, and report presentation. To view the Justice Center’s training schedule, follow this link: https://www.justicecenter.ny.gov/media/news/training-opportunities.

Education and Outreach

The Justice Center also provides education and outreach to staff working in covered settings to help them understand the importance of reporting abuse and neglect and how the investigatory process works.

“Our outreach staff travel across New York to provide information on the importance of incident reporting and what happens during an investigation,” said Justice Center Deputy Director of Outreach, Prevention and Support Davin Robinson. “It is very important that providers and their employees know what their responsibilities are when incidents occur.”

In May, Justice Center presented to or met with staff and officials of Families Together in New York State; NYS Care Management Coalition; Westchester Women’s Bar Association; New York State United Teachers; Association for Community Living; Council of Family and Child Caring Agencies; Interagency Council; HOME INC; and NYS Office of Mental Health Risk Managers.

The Justice Center’s goal is to prevent mistreatment of people with special needs and to ensure that 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).