Some southeast New Mexico communities continue installation of baby surrender boxes after one newborn was placed in an outdoor dumpster in Hobbs and another was allegedly killed by its mother and dumped in a hospital garbage can in Artesia.
The City of Carlsbad contracted with Safe Haven Baby Boxes, an Indiana company to manufacture and install a box at the main fire station at 401 South Halagueño Street.
Former City of Carlsbad Fire Department Chief Richard Lopez said the baby found in a dumpster on a frigid night in Hobbs in early 2022 was the catalyst for the project.
The baby survived and its mother Alexis Avila was arrested and charged with attempted first-degree murder and abuse of a child resulting in great bodily harm. A Lovington jury found her guilty during a trial in April and she was sentenced to 16 years prison in state prison in May.
The City of Carlsbad received a $10,000 grant from the State of New Mexico in 2022 to establish an infant surrender program.
The Carlsbad City Council approved a plan on March 28 establishing policies and procedures for a safe surrender box.
City of Carlsbad City Attorney Denise Madrid Boyea said the city was waiting for price quotes from contractors as no installation date was set.
The New Mexico Children, Youth and Families Department (CYFD) defines a safe haven as a hospital, law enforcement agency or fire station.
In New Mexico a baby that is three months old or younger maybe surrendered without threat of criminal charges for child abandonment, per a CYFD website.
The City of Artesia Police Department and the City of Artesia Fire Department had discussions in June regarding installation of a safe haven box.
City of Artesia Police Spokesperson Cmdr. Pete Quinones said there have been no further developments or discussions from the early talks.
Artesia police arrested 19-year-old Alexee Trevizo May 10 and charged her with first-degree murder after she allegedly placed her newborn baby in a trashcan at Artesia General Hospital.
Police investigated the alleged crime in January and said Trevizo gave birth to the baby in restroom at the hospital. The newborn was later found dead in a garbage can, according to Artesia police.
New Mexico has two baby surrender boxes already in place at fire departments in Espanola and Hobbs, noted the Safe Haven Baby Box website.
Hobbs' safe surrender box was installed May 9 at Fire Station No. 1 said City of Hobbs Spokesperson Meghan Mooney.
"The baby box is an environmentally controlled incubator device designed to keep an infant in a secure and safe environment with sufficient oxygen, a comfortable temperature and equipped with a transparent door and safety alarm to immediately notify the operators that an infant has been placed in the device," she said.
Mooney said once the child is surrendered appropriate authorities are contacted in order for the child to receive medical treatment.
"Fire Station No. 1 was chosen as the location for a baby box as it is considered a medical services provider with Staff available seven days a week, 24 hours a day and with regular monitoring," she said.
In a press release, Hobbs City Manager Manny Gomez said the safe surrender box was more than a year in the making as city officials and the general public showed interest, support and encouragement.
The City of Roswell has a safe surrender box in its possession, according to Mayor Pro Tem Cristina Arnold.
She said the City of Roswell was asked in May of 2022 to look into the option of the safe surrender box. Arnold said city councilors and city administration worked on grants to cover installation and annual fees for the box.
Arnold and fellow Roswell City Councilor Juliana Halvorson reached out to eight Roswell businesses and the Roswell Chamber of Commerce to raise $10,000 to purchase the safe surrender box.
She said the safe surrender would be located at Roswell Fire Station No. 1 in near downtown. Installation of the box should be complete “in the near future.”
“The purchase and installation of the Safe Haven Baby is only the first phase of this project. The final phase is an education campaign through community engagement,” Arnold said.
She said social media, marketing and speaking to Roswell schools and community organizations is part of the community outreach.
Mike Smith can be reached at 575-628-5546 or by email at MSmith@currentargus.com or @ArgusMichae on Twitter.
This article originally appeared on Carlsbad Current-Argus: Southeast New Mexico moves forward on baby safe surrender boxes