New York Sets Guidelines For Reporting Abuse

The New York State agency that oversees care for people with developmental disabilities has agreed to begin reporting abuse allegations to state police.

The announcement comes five months after the New York Times revealed that only 5 percent of those allegations were reported to law enforcement officials.

Governor Andrew Cuomo announced the agreement Thursday between the Office for People With Developmental Disabilities and the New York Division of State Police.

A spokesman for the Office for People With Developmental Disabilities, Travis Proulx, said the change will help keep disabled individuals safe from harm. "The agency had a history of policing itself, and that's just not acceptable," Proulx said. "So we're very pleased with the steps we've taken so far, but there's a lot of work left to do."

The agreement calls for the reporting of any incidents when staff intentionally hit, slap, pinch, kick, shove or strangle their charges.

Police reports should also be made for any sexual contact between staff and clients or between two clients, stemming from coercion, theft or threats of property damage. The agreement also covers deaths where the cause is unknown, as well as staff failure to act in situations that result in injuries to those who are unable to care for themselves.

State officials said the agreement would ensure criminals are held accountable. The proposal applies to the more than 126,000 individuals getting help from the agency or its network of non-profit providers.