Nassau County, New York is served by a very professional and community service-oriented police department. The Nassau County Police Department has approximately 2400 police officers and 1200 civilian employees, including an elite group of 210 Police Medics. The Police Medics (formerly known as Ambulance Medical Technicians, or AMTs,) serve the many communities of Nassau County, addressing medical emergencies whether they be small or life-threatening.
Whether you’re a police officer or a civilian member of the department, crises involving children can upset even the strongest member of the department. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a 911 operator, a dispatcher, police officers at the scene, or the Police Medics who respond to dispense medical assistance, it can have an effect. Timothy Jaccard, a long time Police Medic with the Nassau County Police Department, went to one such call that has not only changed his life, but the lives of many others as well.
In 1997, he received a radio call for an aided case - unresponsive infant. A newborn infant was found in a toilet, covered in toilet paper, in the women’s rest room at the district court in Hempstead, New York. Although aid was rendered, the child was pronounced dead in less than an hour of Tim’s arrival.
Two weeks later he answered a radio call and responded to a baby not breathing across the street from St. Aidan’s Church in Williston Park, New York. Upon his arrival he observed a female infant, wrapped and smothered in a plastic bag in front of the building.
Following that horrific event, two weeks later, a dog running loose dug up the body of a male infant buried in a shallow grave in the back yard of an abandoned house. It was a grizzly find that shocked many.
As if all of these calls weren’t enough, Tim was dispatched within two weeks of the last horrific event, to another call “infant not breathing” inside a recycling center in the Lawrence -Cedarhurst area.
Tim knew he had to do something to combat the insanity of what was happening. He attacked the problem on a number of fronts. He did his research and learned according to New York State law there was no way a mother could give birth and legally abandon the child. If she did, she would face severe criminal charges. Abandoning the child could lead to years in prison.
He developed a program that would allow a birthmother to legally leave a child she could not care for at a safe refuge such as a hospital, police station or firehouse. This allowed the mother to be free from worry about being prosecuted for child abandonment while safely relinquishing the infant, thirty days old or younger. This program went nationwide and developed into Baby Safe Haven. From anywhere in the country, a young mother can pick up the phone and dial 1-888-510-BABY and make arrangements to surrender her baby and save its life.
Tim is considered by many to be the father of Baby Safe Haven and justifiably so. This program has led to many couples adopting these relinquished babies and providing them with safe, healthy and happy homes. The walls in Tim’s office are covered in photos of these happy families he helped bring together.
With more to do, Tim went a step further. Something had to be done for the babies on Long Island that weren’t saved. Someone had to bury the babies, victims of infanticide, with dignity. They deserved more in their short lives than to be abandoned in a Potters Field. He founded the AMT Children of Hope Foundation and recruited the Nassau County Police Department’s Police Medics (AMTs at the time,) to be members.
Tim and the members make sure none of these abandoned children are forgotten as shown at the funerals of these special infants. The AMT Children of Hope Baby Safe Haven Foundation steps in and through legal means as a health proxy, takes custody giving the infants the last name HOPE. They arrange for a police department funeral for the infant. More than 200 members of the police department and the community attend these funerals. Bagpipers play, American flags fly and sprays of flowers overflow the tiny casket. Everyone in full dress uniform, volunteers to attend. None in attendance are compensated for attending as they stand at attention, sometimes in the pouring rain. A motorcade to the cemetery consisted of police cars, fire trucks and of course ambulances. Many people care. At one funeral, the rain was so heavy, police cars escorted three busloads of community members accompanying tiny Thomas John Hope to Holy Rood Cemetery in Westbury, New York.
In Holy Rood there is a special location called the Island of Hope, a plot where ninety-two abandoned infants are buried in the Hope family plot. All the children buried there are given the last name of Hope.
After thirty-seven years with the police department, Tim is now retired from his Police Medic duties but is still active in AMT Children of Hope. He is a father and grandfather, who has a strong sense of faith and feels there is still more for him to do, saving abandoned infants. His credentials are impeccable and the honors he has received are humbling but continue. Recently at a “Shields of Long Island” Christmas meeting, Tim was speaking to the members about the Baby Safe Haven AMT Children of Hope Foundation. One of the restaurant’s waitresses started to cry. Shields members consoled her and when asked why she was crying, she answered, “Nineteen years ago Tim save my life and delivered me in my birthmother’s apartment and brought me to Nassau University Medical Center. His name is on my birth certificate.”
Her words were a beautiful heartwarming tribute and early Christmas present Tim received at that meeting on that cold December night.
About the Author Keith Bettinger
Keith Bettinger is a retired Suffolk County (NY) Police Officer. He’s been writing for law enforcement publications for more than 35 years and has received 28 awards for his articles, stories, poems, and books. He has a Master’s Degree in Human Relations with a major in Clinical Counseling. During his career, he received the department’s Bravery Medal, Silver Shield Award, Meritorious Police Service Award, Special Service Award, Professionalization Award, Department Recognition Award, five Headquarters commendations and six Precinct commendations. He also was a field training officer and an instructor on Post Shooting Trauma and Critical Incidents. Keith has written three books, Fighting Crime with “Some” Day and Lenny, End of Watch and Murder in McHenry.