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 April.

The training sessions and presentations were made at locations in Albany County, Broome County, Dutchess County, Westchester County, Sullivan County, New York City, and Schenectady 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 is not only responsible for investigating incidents of abuse and neglect,” said Lawrence Murello, Director of the Law Enforcement Training Academy, “but also for providing the agencies we oversee, and our law enforcement partners, with the kinds of information that’s critically important to investigate such incidents.” The training includes 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.

The Justice Center’s Law Enforcement Training Academy (LETA) provided training in Port Jefferson, Staten Island and Syracuse to officials of the state agencies the Justice Center oversees on how to investigate cases of abuse, neglect and significant incidents. The training included effective ways to communicate with people with special needs, and the kinds of information Justice Center investigators require when investigating incidents.

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.

“Helping people understand the importance of reporting and what happens during an investigation is a key component in our ongoing efforts to protect people with special needs,” said Justice Center Deputy Director of Outreach, Prevention and Support Davin Robinson. “This is why our outreach staff is continuing to provide critically important information to the agencies we oversee and service providers, so they are clear on what their responsibilities are.”

In April, the Justice Center conducted a statewide webinar for New York members of the National Association of Social Workers on the mission of the Justice Center’s Surrogate Decision Making Committee. The Justice Center’s legal team presented to the NYS Chapter of the American Association of Nurse Attorneys in New York City, and Justice Center advocates gave a presentation to the Broome County Developmental Disabilities Services Office (DDSO) of the NYS Office for People With Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD) on the Justice Center’s advocacy services. Additionally, Justice Center officials provided important information to employees of Hawthorne Cedar Knolls of Hawthorne, Capital District Psychiatric Center of Albany, and the Astor Home in Rhinebeck regarding their duties as mandated reporters.

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).

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE     Contact: Bill Reynolds (518) 549-0200