Focus on interviewing people with special needs
The NYS Justice Center for the Protection of People with Special Needs partnered with the New York State Police Bureau of Criminal Investigations (BCI) to train State Police investigators in Forensic Interviewing Best Practices for Vulnerable Populations. The training, which began October 25 and concluded October 28 at the State Police Training Academy in Albany, provided information about the developmental and emotional needs of people who have disabilities or special needs, and taught skills for interviewing those individuals who become victims or witnesses.
Forensic Interviewing Best Practices for Vulnerable Populations was developed by the Justice Center’s Office of the Special Prosecutor/Inspector General and Office of Incident Reporting and Investigations along with well-known experts in the fields of working with people with disabilities and forensic interviewing. Recognized and approved by the NYS Department of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS), the training program is part of the Justice Center’s ongoing effort to change the way the criminal justice system responds to allegations of abuse and neglect involving vulnerable victims to ensure these individuals have the same protections as the general population. Since the training began in the fall of 2014 many representatives from local law enforcement agencies and district attorney’s offices, along with many of the Justice Center’s investigative and prosecutorial staff, have attended the course.
“We are happy to partner with the New York State Police Bureau of Criminal Investigations and provide this important training opportunity to many of the investigators that the Justice Center has been working with since our inception. The aim of this training is to provide investigators with knowledge and skills that will be helpful to them when interviewing vulnerable people who were either victims of abuse and neglect, or witnesses to it,” said Justice Center Special Prosecutor/Inspector General Patricia E. Gunning. “Our training focuses on how to obtain reliable and credible information while reducing the risk of re-traumatization.”
State Police Superintendent George P. Beach II said, “The State Police continually provides training to its members to equip them with the knowledge and skills to meet the challenges they face on each case. I thank the Justice Center for partnering with the Bureau of Criminal Investigation on this training, which will help improve outcomes of investigations that involve people with disabilities or special needs.”
Twenty-four BCI investigators who work in regions across New York State participated.
The Justice Center’s Forensic Interviewing Best Practices for Vulnerable Populations program is part of the agency’s ongoing training and education efforts to help to ensure successful investigations and prosecutions of cases of abuse and neglect of vulnerable New Yorkers.
The training features lectures and demonstrations conducted by Dr. Scott Modell who is widely known for his work in the area of disability abuse and interview techniques for individuals with developmental disabilities and Dr. Eileen Treacy, an expert in child sexual abuse who is perhaps the state’s best known instructor on forensic interviewing.
The training includes role-play where participants interview trained Justice Center staff who portray individuals with diverse backgrounds and diagnoses based on real cases. The exercises are critiqued by prosecutors, law enforcement officers and others with multiple years of experience in forensic interviewing.
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.
The Justice Center makes this training available to all New York State law enforcement agencies and district attorney’s offices on a limited basis throughout the year. For more information about the Justice Center’s Forensic Interviewing Best Practices for Vulnerable Populations training, please email the Office of the Special Prosecutor/Inspector General