These are some of the ways in which the Disabled Persons Protection Commission (DPPC) and the human service agencies of the Department of Developmental Services (DDS), Department of Mental Health (DMH) and/or the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission (MRC) can help police officers do their jobs effectively by Assisting at the 'scene':
- Securing protective orders, access warrants and emergency guardianship
Since the Raynham Case, it is now possible for the Police and DPPC to obtain access warrants to assess risk. Police are encouraged to work in conjunction with DPPC in seeking and executing access warrants. DPPC can also obtain protective orders. This allows DPPC to arrange for assistance for the alleged victim either in the home or if necessary to relocate the person to a more appropriate and safe location. Under the protective order the DPPC can also seek guardianship.
- Obtaining emergency residential placement
If a victim must leave their home, investigators under the jurisdiction of DPPC will work with the human service agencies to make sure an appropriate protective placement is found and protective service staff are trained to meet the needs of the individual. For example the service staff will be familiar with medication and communication protocols.
- Obtaining alternative personal care attendants (PCA)
If the alleged abuser is a PCA, an alternative PCA will be provided and monitored.
In the case of a domestic violence complaint, police are called to a home and are forced to arrest the husband for assaulting his wife. If the wife has a physical disability, perhaps as a result of a stroke or multiple sclerosis, and her husband is responsible for providing her personal care, his care-giving responsibilities will need to be replaced immediately.
If the victim can stay in their home alternative PCA services will be provided and monitored. If there is no family to assist and a PCA is unavailable, obtaining emergency residential placement may be necessary. In this situation DPPC can assist with obtaining support for the victim.
These are some of the ways in which the Disabled Persons Protection Commission (DPPC) and the human service agencies of the Department of Developmental Services (DDS), Department of Mental Health (DMH) and/or the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission (MRC) can help police officers do their jobs effectively by assisting with preparation for interviewing persons with disabilities:
Providing background data on the:
Past reports of abuse
- Type of disability and any special accommodations utilized or required
- Any past victimization and where they occurred
- Services provided - residential, day, transportation
- Whether or not the victim is under guardianship - A legal guardian is authorized to make decisions in the best interest of that individual. Often times a family member, primarily a parent, may assume this role because their child is disabled. Parents often times automatically assume that they remain the guardian even when their child turns 18 years of age. In fact the opposite is true - when a person turns 18, they are competent until adjudicated incompetent by the court. In order for a parent to obtain guardianship of their adult child with a disability they must petition the courts.
- Situations where knowledge of guardianship is important:
- Victim - To interview the person
- To obtain records or confidential information
- Defendant - If under guardianship, they cannot waive their rights
- Past accusations involving the same victim
- Past accusations of a similar or other nature
- Length employed at agency, previous employers
- Current and former staff who worked with the alleged abuser
- How to contact provider
- Number and types of reports filed in the past involving the same site, individuals, supervisors, or shifts. If reports were substantiated, what corrective actions were taken.
- Assisting in Identifying Communication Abilities
Help to identify what communication aides a person requires and make sure any needed devices are available for use in the interview; for example the need of an interpreter, language board, TTY, computer, etc.
- Assisting with Scheduling
This can include interviews of the victim, interpreters, transportation
- Arrange for Interpreters
Call the Massachusetts Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (MCDHH) to arrange for an American Sign Language and/or Certified Deaf Interpreters to assist with communication and interviews.
Assisting in the interview process
- Arrange for an expert from the disability agency who understands the disability and communication abilities of the alleged victim to assist in the interview process with the investigator.
- Civil Investigators jointly conduct the interview with police or forensic interviewers providing the questions.
- Assist in designing the questions.
- Select and arrange suitable locations for interviews depending on the case. (e.g. Observation rooms, accessible sites, locations near public transportation, etc.)
- Assess appropriateness of a face to face interview and have the environment. adapted as needed. For example victims who are traumatized or whose disability impedes their socialization skills may need the support of a staff person and/or personal possessions during an interview.
- Arrange for support or in-service on various Electronic Communication Devices.