Police make effort to increase scrutiny in baby deaths - wave3.com-Louisville News, Weather & Sports

Police make effort to increase scrutiny in baby deaths

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More than 20 babies have died in each of the past two years in Louisville. More than 20 babies have died in each of the past two years in Louisville.
Barry Wilkerson Barry Wilkerson

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) – Louisville homicide detectives have just made a major switch in how they investigate the deaths of young children with one focus: protecting the children and holding parents accountable.

More than 20 babies have died in each of the past two years in Louisville and LMPD investigators want to know that they doing all they can to prevent it.

"The problem in the past is we still had the mindset that they were all accidents," said LMPD Homicide Commander Lieutenant Barry Wilkerson. "We're looking at the different levels of culpability and in those instances, somebody could be charged with homicide."

Two homicide detectives, Kristen Downs and Brenda Westcott, said enough and started researching ways to protect children.

 "We started looking at the situations of why are these children dying?" Wilkerson said.  "It became too many for us as far as responding to baby deaths."

So they came up with a different way to investigate baby deaths, starting right off the bat in the same way they would any criminal homicide and continuing until they find out it whether it was an accident or that a criminal case should be presented. Wilkerson said that leaves open, "The possibility of holding some of these individuals accountable."

Wilkerson said it comes down to this: parents need to be responsible for their children or face the possibility of criminal charges.

"Your child comes first," he said. "You can't worry about where you're going to get high the next day or how much you're going to drink or whatever it is that you do that would take your attention away from your child. Your child is your most important thing in your life or it should be."

Unfortunately, Metro detectives have already had a reason to put this change into action. Over the weekend, they started an investigation into the death of a baby whose family was staying at the Volunteers of America shelter.  There's no reason to think there's anything criminal yet, but police will move forward with a full-fledged investigation until they know otherwise.

The police are not alone in their efforts, they are working with coroners, medical examiners, forensic teams, Kosair and child protective services.

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