Governor Cuomo Asks Justice Center
to Expand Specialized Training for Law Enforcement
In his 2014 State of the State address, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo directed the Justice Center to expand its statewide training programs to ensure that local law enforcement agencies are educated about its mandate, jurisdiction and the critical role it plays in criminal investigations related to the abuse and neglect of New Yorkers with special needs.
"By providing this important information and engaging police officers and other law enforcement personnel, the Justice Center intends to build partnerships with law enforcement that will further protect New Yorkers with special needs," the Governor said in the text of the address. "In addition, the Justice Center, in partnership with State public safety agencies, will provide guidance on best practices for law enforcement response to situations and confrontations involving individuals with special needs."
The curriculum for the training program is under development, but is expected to include topics such as progressive approaches to addressing emergency situations, challenging behaviors and responsiveness, victimization of people with disabilities, and improved interaction skills.
"Our expanded training will focus on the sensitivities and special needs of people with both mental and physical disabilities," said Justice Center Executive Director Jeff Wise. "This training is designed to promote collaboration among the Justice Center, law enforcement, emergency service workers and service providers to ensure that New Yorkers with special needs are protected to the maximum extent possible."
The expanded training augments efforts begun last year by the Justice Center's Special Prosecutor/Inspector General, Patricia E. Gunning, who has been meeting with district attorneys and local law enforcement officials around the state to make them aware of the Justice Center's mission and the resources available to assist them in investigating and prosecuting cases of abuse and neglect of people with special needs.
Governor Cuomo's complete State of the State address can be found by clicking HERE.
Advisory Council Adopts
Vision and Mission Statements
The Justice Center’s Advisory Council voted to formally adopt Vision and Mission Statements. Members also gave unanimous approval to a set of "Values and Guiding Principles" which articulate the purpose and goals of the agency during its quarterly meeting on January 9. The approved Vision and Mission Statements are:
People with special needs shall be protected from abuse, neglect and mistreatment. This will be accomplished by assuring that the state maintains the nation's highest standards of health, safety and dignity, and by supporting the dedicated men and women who provide services.
The Justice Center is committed to supporting and protecting the health, safety and dignity of all people with special needs and disabilities through advocacy of their civil rights, prevention of mistreatment, and investigation of all allegations of abuse and neglect so that appropriate actions are taken.
The Advisory Council also approved the following tenets for the Justice Center's Values and Guiding Principles:
- Integrity The Justice Center believes that all people with special needs deserve to be treated with respect and that people's rights should be protected.
- Quality The Justice Center is committed to providing superior services and to ensuring that people that people with special needs receive quality care.
- Accountability The Justice Center understands that accountability to the people we serve and the public is paramount.
- Education The Justice Center believes that outreach, training and the promotion of best practices are critical to affect systems change.
- Collaboration Safe-guarding people with special needs is a shared responsibility and the Justice Center is successful because it works with agencies, providers, people who provide direct services, and people with special needs to prevent abuse and neglect.
The Advisory Council was created to provide guidance to the Justice Center in the development of its policies, programs and regulations. It is comprised of 30 members who were appointed by the Governor, with the advice and consent of the Senate. Members include service providers, people who have or are currently receiving services, their family members and advocates. At least one-half of the members must be individuals who are or have received services from programs within the Justice Center’s jurisdiction, or their parents or relatives. The Council meets at least four times a year, with its next meeting scheduled for April 10th.
New Guidance Offered to Schools on
Discipline for Students with Disabilities
Research has shown that students with disabilities miss classes due to suspensions or expulsions more often than students without disabilities. To help address overall student discipline and this issue in particular, the U.S. Departments of Education and Justice have developed new guidance to help states, school districts and school personnel develop discipline policies that are effective and fair, and that ensure those policies and practices comply with federal law.
According to the agencies, even though incidents of school violence have decreased overall, too many schools are still struggling to create positive, safe environments. In addition, research shows significant numbers of students miss class each year due to suspensions and expulsions— even for minor infractions of school rules — and that students with disabilities are disproportionately impacted.
The new guidance is aimed at improving school safety by making sure that climates are welcoming and that responses to misbehavior are fair, non-discriminatory and effective. The guidance package provides resources for creating safe and positive school climates, which are essential for boosting student academic success and closing achievement gaps.
More information, in both English and Spanish, is available by CLICKING HERE.
Justice Center in the News
Albany Times Union: A visit to the New York State Justice Center
Kingston Freeman: Residential Center aide charged with choking youth
Staten Island Advance: Worker arrested for allegedly assaulting a developmentally disabled man in her care.
Visit the Justice Center's website for updates, information and other resources.