By Lt. John Ojo, AA/PIO
California State Prison, Solano
A news report regarding a man abandoning a 16-day-old baby in a parking lot in Suisun City made national headlines in late July but one piece of the story attracted little attention – the quick actions of a correctional officer at the scene led to the apprehension of the suspect.
Peace officers train for critical incidents that may occur at any moment. With that training, correctional officers are held to a higher standard and judged on the response to stressful situations. The quick thinking of Officer K. Fox illustrates how a competent trained correctional employee can respond effectively to positively impact the community.
While getting a haircut at a local barber shop, California State Prison, Solano, Officer Fox spotted something odd happening outside the shop’s window. A vehicle quickly pulled into a parking stall. A man quickly got out and placed what appeared to be an infant car seat on the ground. The man then got back in the vehicle and sped away.
Officer Fox credits his correctional awareness and training for what he did next. The officer asked a barber to take a look in the car seat to see if anything was inside. The barber found a baby in the seat. Cynthia Meeks, another barber, grabbed the car seat and ensured the baby was taken inside out of the heat.
Officer Fox assessed the scene and spotted what appeared to be a nearby store’s security camera aimed at the parking lot. He went to the neighboring shop and requested to view the surveillance footage. The store gave him access to the footage and he was able to enlarge the video, allowing him to get the license plate number as well as the make and model of the car.
Officer Fox quickly contacted the local police department to report the incident. Police officers, who were already nearby, responded to the shopping center. While on the scene, they received information of a hit-and-run collision in nearby Fairfield. The description of the vehicle involved in the hit-and-run matched the vehicle described by Officer Fox from the surveillance video.
After the collision, the driver was taken to an area hospital. The driver was later identified as 18-year-old Fairfield resident Daniel Mitchell.
Suisun police contacted Mitchell at the hospital and he was identified as the infant’s father. Mitchell was taken into custody by Fairfield police on suspicion of child endangerment, child abandonment, committing a felony while on bail and misdemeanor possession of a controlled substance.
After some tests, medical staff discovered the baby had a medical condition and he was transported via helicopter to an alternate hospital for treatment. According to a Police Department Facebook post, the infant was in critical but stable condition. The baby was later placed into protective custody with Solano County Child Protective Services.
The national media didn’t pick up on the CDCR connection to the incident for a simple reason – Officer Fox wasn’t seeking attention. After some convincing by coworkers, he is now sharing his story.
Officer Fox has recently received a promotion to Correctional Sergeant at the California Medical Facility.