ALBANY COUNTY Twelve years ago, police officer Steven Krokoff responded to an EMS call around midnight about a baby who had stopped breathing. When he arrived at the scene, the infant was dead.
“I remember speaking at length with the mother, who told me that he was born premature due to complications with the pregnancy. ‘I know I’m not supposed to be sleeping with him, but because he was born early … I felt more comfortable having him closer to me,’” Krokoff said. “That resonated with me.”
Krokoff, now the City of Albany police chief, at the time had a premature, infant child the same age as the mother’s. He, too, would sleep with his baby.
“I knew better … but I thought that was something that would happen to somebody else. That woke me up. My son never slept with me again in that matter,” Krokoff said.
Krokoff joined local health and child welfare officials, Albany County Executive Dan McCoy, District Attorney David Soares and the county’s Child Fatality Review Team on Wednesday, March 6, to stress the seriousness of unsafe sleeping with babies and to announce the launch of the “Safe Sleeping” campaign to educate the public on preventing infant deaths.
Since 2009, 12 infant deaths have been reported in the county that were determined to be directly related to unsafe sleeping. These fatalities most often occur when an adult shares a bed with an infant, rolls onto them and smothers them.
“It’s 12 too many, in my opinion,” McCoy said. “Don’t be a statistic. We have to unfortunately learn from these 12 mistakes.”
Babies are safest when they sleep on their backs, alone in a safety-approved crib and are not surrounded by any items, including pillows or stuffed animals. To help spread this message, McCoy said the county has partnered with CDTA for a public education campaign with the tagline, “You don’t have to sleep with your baby to keep them close.”