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New training helps Calgary child abuse investigators solve ‘shaken-baby’ cases

New training helps Calgary child abuse investigators solve ‘shaken-baby’ cases
WATCH: Calgary police are using new strategies to solve some of the most complicated and tragic cases in the city. Investigators say this will mean charges in several cases in the coming weeks. Nancy Hixt reports.

Calgary police are using new strategies to solve some of the most complicated and tragic cases in the city.

Experts from the United States were brought in to help investigators at the Sheldon Kennedy Child Advocacy Centre (SKCAC) deal with cases of abusive head trauma—more commonly known as “shaken baby.”

“The most difficult cases we come across are shaken baby,” Child Abuse Unit Insp. John Guigon said.

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“We just learned a whole bunch of different methods,” Guigon said. “I can tell you that we learned best practices and interview best practices and putting together forensic investigations.”

Police said Calgarians will see the results of the new training right away, in the form of more charges in cases of shaken baby.

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“It gave us a lot of good new direction for the currently outstanding cases that we have and we think we are close to identifying several offenders in our shaken-baby cases.”

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Police said the biggest issue is getting at the truth. In most cases, investigators said the explanation given by caregivers doesn’t match the medical evidence.

“We often get stories of a two-month-old falling off a bed on their own accord, or maybe a child got up off of their high chair and fell off, or maybe the injuries due to bouncing the baby on your knee or roughhousing, throwing the baby up,” Guigon said.

“We know medically those mechanisms don’t explain the actual injuries…so we know that’s false.”

“They’re very difficult because often the trauma that occurs is never witnessed, so happens usually while there’s only one person who knows what actually happened,” Guigon said.

About a dozen cases of shaken baby are investigated every year at the SKCAC.

Police said they are close to laying charges in two cases, including one homicide and one incident that happened at a dayhome in early 2017.