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2340 Conducting Interviews

2341 Interviewing Alleged Victims

APS IH / September 2011

During APS investigations, APS specialists interview persons age 65 or older and adults with disabilities who are alleged to be in a state of abuse, neglect, or financial exploitation in order to investigate the case and thoroughly assess alleged victims’ overall situations.

2341.1 Procedures for Interviewing Alleged Victims

APS IH September 2014

The APS specialist must obtain specific permission to enter the premises where the alleged victim is residing, such as a verbal response or the person opening the door for the APS specialist to enter the home. The APS specialist documents the specific permission to enter in IMPACT.

2341.11 Denial or Revocation of Permission to Enter

APS IH / February 2013

The APS specialist does not enter or remain in the home if permission is denied or is revoked after it was initially granted, even if it comes from someone other than the alleged victim, such as a caretaker, co-habitant, or family member. The APS specialist may attempt to use verbal persuasion to gain entry or remain in the home; however, if this is unsuccessful, the APS specialist must leave the home.

Once entry has been denied or revoked, the specialist seeks assistance for permission to enter or return to the home from a family member or friend of the alleged victim. If this fails, the APS specialist consults with the supervisor and regional attorney to determine whether it is appropriate to seek an order for court-authorized entry or an order against interference with an investigation.

Law enforcement may be present as a safety precaution for the APS specialist at the time that the alleged victim or another person refuses entry or asks the APS specialist to leave the home. The APS specialist cannot rely on law enforcement to gain entry into the home and is required to refrain from entering the home or must leave the home if requested to do so by the alleged victim or another person in the home.

Emergencies Requiring Entry

The APS specialist uses judgment to determine whether an emergency exists that requires contacting law enforcement or emergency personnel to gain entry or remain in the home. The APS specialist bases the decision on what he or she observes when being refused entry or asked to leave.

The APS specialist may enter without a court order in an emergency for the purpose of preserving life, if:

  •   the APS specialist has reason to believe that the alleged victim is alone and is in a life-threatening situation; and

  •   there is no one available to give consent.

Before entering, the APS specialist must:

  •   call 911 for assistance; and

  •   notify a supervisor about the actions he or she intends to take.

See:

2261 Procedure When Alleged Victim Refuses to Cooperate With APS Investigation

2653.1 Procedure for Gaining Access to the Ward During an Investigation

4200 Court-Authorized Entry

4400 Interference With Investigation or Protective Services

2341.12 Transporting an Alleged Victim for an Interview

APS IH / September 2011

The APS specialist may determine an alleged victim would be more comfortable being interviewed in a different setting or has an appointment that is necessary to assess or ensure the alleged victim’s health or well-being, such as a medical appointment, but has no means of transportation. The APS specialist seeks alternate means of transportation for the alleged victim, including but not limited to:

  •   family and friends;

  •   public transportation;

  •   Medicaid transportation;

  •   taxi services; and

  •   transportation services through community agencies, where available.

The APS specialist only transports an alleged victim after consulting the supervisor in rare cases when:

  •   alternate means of transportation is not available;

  •   safety concerns do not exist; and

  •   the alleged victim is clearly willing and capable of giving consent. If a alleged victim has a legal guardian, the guardian must give permission.

If the alleged victim is unwilling, lacks sufficient capacity to consent or has a legal guardian who has refused consent, the APS specialist re-assesses the necessity of the alternate interview site or appointment. If the APS specialist still believes it is necessary, the APS specialist consults the supervisor about possible alternatives. If a guardian or caretaker is preventing the alleged victim from being transported, the APS specialist, with supervisor approval, consults the regional attorney about seeking a court order against interference with an investigation. 

See:

2653.1 Procedure for Gaining Access to the Ward During an Investigation

4400 Interference With Investigation or Protective Services

2341.13 Conducting the Interview With an Alleged Victim

APS-IH / November 2016

When interviewing the alleged victim, the APS specialist:

  •  addresses all important factors regarding the allegations and the alleged victim’s overall situation;

  •  interviews the alleged victim alone in cases involving an alleged perpetrator, but allows the alleged victim to have another person present upon the alleged victim’s request. This may include the alleged perpetrator if the alleged victim insists; and

  •  interviews the alleged victim again at a later time as necessary to resolve discrepancies.

When another person is present during the interview, the APS specialist documents in IMPACT whether the alleged victim requested that the person be present and the person’s relationship to the alleged victim. If the alleged victim did not specifically request the person be present during the interview, the APS specialist also documents in IMPACT why the alleged victim was not interviewed alone.

The APS specialist should always monitor the alleged victim during the interview to see if the alleged victim appears to be hesitant, withdrawn, or nervous while participating in the interview. Such cues may be indications that the alleged victim is not comfortable speaking openly in the presence of the other person.

See also:

2333 Documentation of Investigation Contacts

2334.1 Procedures for Written Statements

2342 Interviewing Alleged Perpetrators

APS-IH / November 2016

The APS specialist interviews the alleged perpetrator to collect potentially vital information and to develop a complete understanding of the situation.

The APS specialist interviews the alleged perpetrator no later than10 calendar days after the latest of:

  •  the successful initial face to face visit with the alleged victim;

  •  the successful interview with the alleged victim; or

  •  the supervisor consult when the alleged victim refuses to cooperate with the investigation.

Alleged perpetrators have a right to have an attorney present during interviews. APS specialists do not interview alleged perpetrators when doing so places alleged victims in danger of serious physical or emotional harm.

2342.1 Procedure for Interviewing Alleged Perpetrators

APS-IH / November 2016

The APS specialist:

  •  makes all reasonable attempts to interview the alleged perpetrator (see 2342);

  •  sends Form 2255 AP Request for Interview if attempts to contact the alleged perpetrator are not successful;

  •  enlists the help of a secondary APS specialist if the alleged perpetrator resides in a different county;

  •  consults with the regional attorney if the alleged perpetrator requests his or her attorney be present during the interview;

  •  avoids preconceived ideas regarding the allegations when interviewing the alleged perpetrator;

  •  interacts with the alleged perpetrator in an objective and professional manner;

  •  addresses all important factors regarding the allegations and the alleged victim’s overall situation;

  •  questions the alleged perpetrator further to clear up discrepancies;

  •  re-interviews the alleged perpetrator at a later time as necessary to resolve any new or remaining discrepancies; and

  •  fosters a working relationship.

See:

2241 Procedure for Initial Face-to-Face Contact With the Alleged Victim

2260 Alleged Victim Refuses to Cooperate With APS Investigation

2342.2 Procedure for Not Interviewing the Alleged Perpetrator

APS-IH / November 2016

The APS specialist has the option to forgo an interview with the alleged perpetrator only if the:

  •  alleged perpetrator does not respond to the APS specialist’s attempts to arrange an interview;

  •  alleged perpetrator refuses to be interviewed;

  •  request is made by law enforcement or prosecuting attorneys to postpone or forgo interviewing the alleged perpetrator because of an ongoing criminal investigation or pending prosecution;

  •  alleged perpetrator’s whereabouts are unknown;

  •  alleged perpetrator is a minor and the parent or guardian has refused to allow an interview; or

  •  APS specialist has reason to believe that interviewing the alleged perpetrator will place the alleged victim in danger of serious physical or emotional harm.

Documentation of a supervisory consultation is required whenever a decision is made not to interview the alleged perpetrator.

See 2347 Interviewing Minors.

Request by Law Enforcement or Prosecuting Attorneys to Forgo Interview

If law enforcement or prosecuting attorneys request APS postpone or forgo interviewing the alleged perpetrator because of an ongoing criminal investigation or pending prosecution, the APS specialist documents this request in IMPACT, including all required information as outlined in 2346.1 Procedure for Interviewing Law Enforcement.

The APS specialist uses all available evidence to reach a finding, including any discussions with law enforcement regarding statements made by the alleged perpetrator that may be included in the APS investigation in lieu of interviewing the alleged perpetrator.

If it appears the delay in interviewing the alleged perpetrator will be longer than three months, the APS specialist, with documented supervisory approval, may close the investigation without interviewing the alleged perpetrator.

See also 5310 Designated Perpetrators Ineligible for Desk Review.

2342.3 Procedure for Determining Disposition of Allegations Without the Alleged Perpetrator

APS-IH / November 2008

If the alleged perpetrator is not interviewed, the APS specialist weighs all other evidence collected to determine if there is a preponderance to support a finding.

See 2700 Determination of Findings in an Investigation.

2343 Interviewing Collaterals

APS-IH / June 2009

APS interviews all appropriate persons thought to have knowledge of the alleged victim’s situation in order to collect evidence and assess the alleged victim’s overall situation and risk. When making collateral contacts, APS ensures the alleged victim’s privacy and confidentiality are protected.

See also 5122 Disclosure of Case Information to the Reporter and Others.

2343.1 Procedure for Interviewing Collaterals

APS-IH / June 2009

The APS specialist thoroughly interviews and, as appropriate, re-interviews all persons thought to have relevant information to:

  •   determine the validity of the allegations;

  •   understand the alleged victim's overall situation and risk; and

  •   resolve discrepancies in collected evidence.

The APS specialist:

  •   addresses all important factors regarding the allegations and the alleged victim's overall situation;

  •   explores risk to the alleged victim's health and safety;

  •   questions the collateral further to clear up discrepancies; and

  •   re-interviews the collateral at a later time, as necessary, to resolve discrepancies.

See also 2333 Documentation of Investigation Contacts.

2344 Interviewing the Reporter

APS IH / May 2011

APS interviews persons who make reports of abuse, neglect, or financial exploitation of persons age 65 or older and adults with disabilities to:

  •   clarify information given at intake; and

  •   collect additional information regarding allegations and alleged victims’ overall situations.

APS case-related information is confidential. Unless otherwise entitled to case records, reporters of abuse, neglect, and financial exploitation are not provided with all case information discovered during APS investigations or the delivery of protective services. APS only provides the reporter with pertinent case information necessary to:

  •   confirm whether allegations will be accepted for investigation;

  •   collect evidence and gather relevant information related to allegations and the alleged victim’s overall situation and risk; and

  •   arrange for protective services to reduce risk of harm or alleviate abuse, neglect, or financial exploitation.

Except as provided by Chapter 552 of the Government Code, all files, reports, records, communications, and working papers used or developed in an investigation made under this chapter or in providing services as a result of an investigation are confidential, including:

  •   a report of abuse, neglect, or financial exploitation; and

  •   the identity of the person making the report.

Human Resources Code §48.101

See:

5100 Confidentiality, Disclosure, and Release of Case Information

5122 Disclosure of Case Information to the Reporter and Others

2344.1 Procedure for Interviewing the Reporter With Firsthand Knowledge

APS IH / May 2011

The APS specialist:

  •   contacts the reporter to obtain further information;

  •   makes two or more attempted contacts to interview the reporter in every case unless the reporter is anonymous;

  •   asks about all aspects of the allegations and the alleged victim’s overall situation;

  •   explores risk to the alleged victim’s health and safety;

  •   re-interviews the reporter at a later time as necessary to resolve any discrepancies; and

  •   contacts the supervisor and regional attorney as necessary when uncertain about what information can be released to the reporter.

2344.12 Procedure for Interviewing a Reporter Without Firsthand Knowledge

APS IH / May 2011

In some cases, the reporter may be an individual who was not a direct witness and has no firsthand knowledge of the alleged incident of abuse, neglect or financial exploitation that was actually witnessed by someone else.

If the APS specialist has identified an individual with firsthand knowledge, discretion may be used in determining if it is necessary to interview the reporter. When determining whether or not to interview the reporter, the APS specialist considers what other relevant information regarding the alleged victim’s situation the reporter may be able to provide. If not interviewed, the APS specialist must document, without identifying the reporter, that the reporter was not interviewed due to having no firsthand knowledge or other relevant information.

If the APS specialist determines interviewing the reporter is not necessary, the APS specialist still must interview or attempt to interview the individual with firsthand knowledge as outlined in 2344.1 Procedure for Interviewing the Reporter With Firsthand Knowledge.

See 2330 Testimonial Evidence (Interviewing)

2344.2 Documentation for Interviews With the Reporter

APS IH September 2014

Texas law requires that the identity of the person reporting abuse, neglect, or financial exploitation be kept confidential. Since alleged victims, perpetrators, and guardians can obtain copies of case files, APS specialists must be careful about how they document information related to the reporter.

The APS specialist:

  •   ensures all case information is documented in a way that does not provide any indication of who made the report of abuse, neglect, or financial exploitation, which includes not using terms such as reporter or phrases such as made the report; and

  •   documents all attempts to contact the reporter in IMPACT.

See 2333 Documentation of Investigation Contacts.

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