#911Bill #JusticeCenterfortheProtectionofPeoplewithSpecialNeeds ##AssemblyMentalHealthCommittee #NewYork #JimFranco #SpotlightNews
ALBANY—A bill that would make the first calls of any mandated reporter aware of abuse or neglect to include 911 has made it out of the Senate Mental Health Committee and is currently being reviewed by the Finance Committee, the last step before making it to the floor for a vote.
A similar bill is in the Assembly Mental Health Committee before it goes to that chamber’s floor for a vote. Bills in both houses must exactly match before it can be sent to the governor for consideration.
“Mandated reporters shall report allegations of reportable incidents, all suspicious and unexplained injuries to include broken bones, hematomas, open wounds beyond minor first aid, black eyes, swollen noses, extreme and questionable bruising, choke marks, burns, all individuals served found unresponsive and all deaths to a 9-1-1 operator, the county district attorney’s office and the vulnerable persons’ central register except for taunts, derogatory comments or ridicule which is required to be reported solely to the vulnerable persons’ central register,” according to the bill.
The current section of the state Social Services Law only requires mandated reporters to notify the vulnerable persons registry. But, there is nothing in the current law that “shall be construed to prohibit a mandated reporter from contacting or reporting to law enforcement or emergency services before or after reporting to the vulnerable persons’ central registry.”
A mandated reporter is a long list of medical/clinical professionals, educators and law enforcement personnel as well as consultants, volunteers or anyone who has regular contact with the disabled being cared for in a state run or state funded facility.
At issue is whether or not incidents of abuse and/or neglect are being reported to local law enforcement to investigate and prosecute or to the Justice Center for the Protection of Persons with Special Needs, a state agency created in 2013. Part of its charge is the creation of a Vulnerable Persons Central Registry.
After the report is made, the Justice Center determines whether or not the allegation is founded and then investigates and, if warranted, prosecutes. Local law enforcement is, often times, left out of the loop.
This is a different hotline than the one a similar list of mandated reporters must call if they witness the abuse or neglect of a child.
“The historic 911 Civil Rights Bill which has massive bi-partisan support just moved out of committee and must be brought to the Senate floor for a vote swiftly,” said Michael Carey, an advocate for the disabled. “This vital 911 bill will save many lives and finally end decades of discrimination against one million New Yorker’s with disabilities.”
Carey’s severely autistic son Jonathan was killed in 2007 when two attendants at the Oswald D. Heck Developmental Center in Niskayuna tried to restrain the then 13-year-old boy.
A number of legislators on both sides of the aisle have signed on in support of the bill. It is sponsored by Staten Island Republican Sen. Andrew Lanza and Queens Democrat David Weprin in the Assembly.
The Justice Center has come under fire on a number of fronts, with some saying it is too aggressive in prosecuting cases of abuse and neglect in state run or state funded facilities and others, like Michael Carey, saying it is not doing enough to protect our society’s most vulnerable.
It also saw three different judges throw out three sex abuse cases based on the constitutional question of whether or not it has the authority to prosecute cases or if that power is exclusive to elected district attorneys or the elected attorney general.
Then Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s office sided with the defense attorneys against the state agency. The Justice Center has said it is deciding whether or not to appeal but as of last week no paperwork had been filed. It did, though, file a notice of appeal to keep its options open.