Law enforcement officers in one West Virginia county will start using a database this week to track children who may be at risk of drug-related abuse, according to the Associated Press.
Starting today, law enforcement officers in Putnam County can enter any drug-related cases in which a child’s safety could be compromised. The Drug Endangered Child Tracking System will allow officers to report cases in which they are suspicious of child endangerment, but do not have proof, such as when they find a pacifier or empty car seat in a vehicle that has been transformed into a mobile meth lab.
Until now, officers have had no formal way to share suspicions of child endangerment directly with child welfare workers in drug cases, the AP reports. “We just didn’t input the data to make a black-and-white document, and in law enforcement, if it’s not on paper, it didn’t happen,” said Putnam County Sheriff, Steve Deweese.
Child-welfare workers will be able to log into the system to search for cases. “Law enforcement does a great job of identifying kids — if they’re there. But sometimes, you may not know there are children involved,” Sara Whitney, an investigator in the Putnam County prosecutor’s office, told the AP. “A lot of these kids come and go from relatives or neighbors, and it may be that when law enforcement interacts with the parents, they are somewhere else.”
West Virginia State Police hope the tracking system eventually will be used throughout the state, the article notes.