National Experts Lead Justice Center Forensic Interview Training for Vulnerable Populations
As part of its ongoing efforts to raise awareness and provide training to local law enforcement officers and prosecutors, the NYS Justice Center for the Protection of People with Special Needs hosted the second in a series of multi-day training events, featuring curriculum developed by the Justice Center's Office of the Special Prosecutor/Inspector General and presented by two experts in the field of forensic interviewing.
The training, held November 4-6, featured Dr. Scott Modell, a nationally known expert on crime victims with developmental disabilities and forensic interview techniques, and Dr. Eileen Treacy, a professor of psychology and scholar on child abuse. Topics included information about the developmental and emotional needs of adults and children with intellectual or developmental disabilities; mental health diagnoses or substance abuse disorders; the abuse dynamics of vulnerable persons; and research-based strategies for effective interviewing.
The Justice Centerâ€™s training programs help to strengthen the stateâ€™s system of incident reporting, investigations and disciplinary processes, by giving local law enforcement a broader understanding of the lives and abilities of victims and witnesses with special needs and disabilities.
â€œInformation from the victim or a witness is critical to an investigation of abuse or neglect and many first responders may not have a lot of experience dealing with persons with special needs,â€ said Patricia E. Gunning, Justice Center Special Prosecutor/Inspector General. â€œThis training provides investigators and prosecutors with techniques to gather information in a non-traumatic way that will hold up in court if an investigation leads to a criminal prosecution.â€
Drs. Modell and Treacy reminded participants that while it may be more difficult to elicit accurate and detailed evidence from a person with special needs, these individuals can often disclose relevant information about what they experienced or witnessed. Since the establishment of the Justice Center in June of 2013, cases involving the abuse of vulnerable persons that might have gone unreported in the past are now reported to and investigated by the Justice Center and local law enforcement agencies.