State Police, deputies adopt system to help track addicted parents
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- A recent string of incidents where children were hurt or endangered because their parents were drunk or on drugs has led State Police and some local police agencies to adopt a program to help keep tabs on addicted parents.
"Just about every time we see a child neglect charge, drugs seem to be a part of it," said West Virginia State Police spokesman Sgt. Michael Baylous.
On Sunday, State Police arrested Paul Naylor, 32 and Kimberly Anderson, 42, of St. Albans and charged them with conspiracy and child neglect after the couple's 9-year-old daughter called 911 to report that Naylor had held a knife to her neck and threatened to kill her, Baylous said. Troopers allegedly found the couple's mobile home in deplorable condition, with a 3-year-old sleeping on a couch covered with dog feces and prescription drugs and marijuana throughout the house.
On May 7, troopers in Belington arrested David Delauder, 37 and Ida Evans, 31 and charged them with death of a child by a parent after the couple allegedly gave a 23-month-old child a dose of methadone in and attempt to get the infant to go to sleep. The child died.
In April, troopers in Logan arrested Matthew Kennedy, 22 and charged him with child neglect and kidnapping after Kennedy allegedly kidnapped an infant and left the child on the railroad tracks while trying to get away. Kennedy was thought to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Baylous said these and similar incidents prompted the State Police and sheriffs' departments in Kanawha and Putnam counties to adopt the DECSYS tracking system, a computerized system that allows law enforcement to more easily share information with child protective services workers. Baylous said officials hope to expand the pilot program to the entire state.
Using the system, troopers or deputies serving drug warrants on homes or pulling someone over for being under the influence of drugs or alcohol can enter information into the system to alert child welfare workers of potential hazards for children. Even if a child isn't home when officers are at the house or aren't in the car at a traffic stop, Baylous said officers might notice toys, cribs, car seats or other red flags that might hint that a child could be endangered by a parent's drug or alcohol use.
Baylous said the ultimate goal is to identify homes dangerous to children and get the children out of dangerous situations. "We need to reach these kids," he said.
West Virginia State Police Superintendent Col. Jay Smithers said state officials have been talking about the prescription drug problem and its fallout for several years.
"In the case of prescription and illegal street drug abuse our children are the casualties, as they are often being neglected by their parents or guardians," Smithers said. He said Colorado officials found children whose parents abuse drugs or alcohol are three times more likely to be abused and four times more likely to be neglected.
"I find it a gross injustice that while many couples are unable to conceive a child, nearly every night in our state there is a child somewhere living in filthy conditions and in a constant state of fear," he said.
Reach Rusty Marks at firstname.lastname@example.org or 304-348-1215.