Local law enforcement now trained to take in abandoned babies
FARGO, N.D. (Valley News Live) - You may have noticed some new signs posted on various buildings throughout the metro stating they are a ‘Baby Safe Haven approved,’ but what does that mean?
North Dakota’s Baby Safe Haven Program allows a parent who feels they are unable to take care of their infant to surrender the baby without facing prosecution. The law was passed in 2000, but in 2019 lawmakers expanded the amount of people and places that could take part in it, including law enforcement buildings like the Cass County Sheriff’s Office
“I feel it’s very important. Obviously these things don’t happen on a day-to-day basis, but there are those times where someone might just be in a bad position or predicament where they are no longer able to care for that infant and certainly we then would want to help that person out so the infant is safe,” Cass County Sheriff Jesse Jahner said.
North Dakota law states abandoned babies must be under one years old, they cannot be harmed and they must be dropped off with an on-duty staff member at the safe haven location.
“If there’s no one here, they cannot leave the infant here,” Jahner said.
Jahner says all of his deputies and staff have gone through training on the program, but so far have not had to take in any infants. Both Fargo and West Fargo Police, as well as the Red River Regional Dispatch center say they haven’t had to either. Data from across the state on how many babies have been abandoned and gone through the Safe Haven Program throughout the last 21 years was not available as of this publication.
“The goal, again, wouldn’t be to get that person in trouble, it would literally be to make sure that everyone was safe,” Jahner said.
State officials say parents who change their mind after leaving their baby at a safe haven do have options, as long as the court hasn’t already terminated their rights. You can find more information on this program by clicking here.
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