Gluckstadt Police Dept. to have Safe Haven Baby Box

Published: Nov. 15, 2023 at 4:17 PM CST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

GLUCKSTADT, Miss. (WLBT) - A new option designed to help mothers anonymously and safely give up their newborns has been approved for installation in Gluckstadt.

On Tuesday, the mayor and board of aldermen approved allowing the construction of a Safe Haven Baby Box in the Gluckstadt Police Station.

The station is still under construction and won’t be completed until next summer. The box will be constructed into a side wall and will serve as a spot where mothers can drop off their children ages newborn to 45 days without facing any repercussions.

“It will be somewhere where it won’t be out in the open, so [the mother] will have a little bit of anonymity,” said Chief Barry Hale. “It will be near dispatch, so when it’s opened, an alarm will go off and someone will be there to call whoever needs to be called.”

Depending on how soon it’s built, Gluckstadt could have the second Safe Haven Baby Box in the state. The first was installed at the Long Beach Fire Station earlier this year.

So far, no babies have been dropped off at the site, said Caitlin Kelly, an advocate for Safe Haven Baby Boxes.

District 73 Rep. Jill Ford was one of the authors of a bill that made it easier for parents to drop off their babies if they’re unable to take care of them.

She says the baby box could help save lives post Roe v. Wade.

“It was part of a package... the post-Roe v. Wade legislation we passed,” Ford said. “Two of my bills were the Safe Haven Baby Box Bill, and the Foster Parents’ Bill of Rights.”

The Safe Haven legislation amended state law to increase the age of babies that could be dropped off from seven to 45 days.

It also spelled out rules for drop-off sites, saying among other things, they must be climate-controlled, must have an alarm system to notify first responders, and must be tested once a week and visually inspected twice a day to ensure the alarms are working.

The boxes also must be located in areas staffed continuously, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and be anchored to the facility so they cannot be moved as a whole.

Here’s how they work: Parents place their babies in the box, which has an opening on the outside of the police station, fire station, or other facility.

Once the box is opened/closed, an alarm sounds and notifies first responders. Responders will arrive in about two minutes, giving the parents enough time to leave if they choose to do so.

Once the child is retrieved, he or she will be placed in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Child Protection Services, and during that time, police will check to ensure the child is not missing.

Gluckstadt will purchase the box through Safe Haven Baby Box, a nonprofit organization in Indiana, and will pay for it through private donations.

Ford said once the contract is submitted to Safe Haven, the group will provide the city with a link, which can be used for fund-raising efforts.

The goal is to bring in about $20,000, which she says will pay for the box, its installation, and advertisements to direct mothers to the site.

“That’s what this is all about... keeping babies out of dumpsters or being left on doorsteps,” Ford said. “You have a safe incubator... It has to be located in a 24-hour emergency facility, manned 24 hours a day, and as soon as it is opened and closed, it goes off.”

Want more WLBT news in your inbox? Click here to subscribe to our newsletter.

See a spelling or grammar error in our story? Please click here to report it and include the headline of the story in your email.