Local first responders train on Georgia's Safe Haven Law

By: Noelani Mathews | WCTV Eyewitness News
February 13, 2019

THOMAS COUNTY, Ga. (WCTV) -- First responders in Thomasville and Thomas County are receiving new training as they become part of the state's Safe Haven Law.

The law provides mothers with protection and a safe place to give up their newborns.

In 2017, Georgia was ranked the second highest in the nation for abandoned infants. In that same year, the state moved forward on amendments to the Safe Haven Law.

The Hope Box is the non-profit behind the new amendment, which went into effect last July. Its vision is to eliminate infant abuse and abandonment.

The law allows mothers to drop off newborns without fear of criminal charges. Before, drop offs were only allowed at a medical facility, but now, fire and police stations are added too.

It means important training for responders and officers in Thomas County. Tuesday, they were trained on the Safe Haven Law and how to act fast in a rescue.

"What does that person do in a situation where she says, 'I can't take this baby back?' What are her rights and how can we create resources so a mother is not prosecuted for trying to protect her infant," said Sarah Koeppen with the Hope Box.

She says mothers now have 30 days to leave newborns, instead of seven. Also, their identification is no longer required.

The Hope Box would like to see Safe Haven be the last resort. However, in the case it does happen, they want it to be in a way where a mother and her infant are protected.

They say every day in Georgia, 33 infants are either abused, neglected or abandoned. So far, over 3,400 lives have been saved by the Safe Haven Law.

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