Two Detroit police officers recently got a taste of life and death during the same shift.
Officers Alyssa Wadas and Scott Barrick responded to a report of a dead body in the Detroit River on Oct. 5. Hours later, at 2:30 a.m. Oct. 6, while investigating a stabbing, they helped deliver a baby girl.
“It was the full circle of life,” Wadas said.
Added Barrick: “You see (officers helping deliver babies) on TV, but you don’t expect it to happen to you.”
Wadas and Barrick, partners in the 4th Precinct in southwest Detroit, pulled a double shift, which is why they were on duty early in the morning when a dispatcher announced there had been a reported stabbing in the 6400 block of Cabot.
“We responded and found a person had been stabbed,” Barrick said.
Other officers arrived on the scene, and the stabbing victim was taken to a hospital. The suspect, who also required medical attention, was too large to be placed in the back of the squad car, so Barrick said a second ambulance was called.
“Then someone on a nearby porch yelled that his wife was in labor,” Barrick said.
Other officers covered the suspect while Barrick and Wadas hurried to the nearby home to render aid. The expectant mother was on the porch, and had planned on having a midwife deliver the baby at home — but the midwife wasn’t there when her water broke, the officers said.
The woman told the officers the midwife was on the way, but they said there wasn’t time to wait for her.
“She was already in full labor, and we knew she was going to have the baby somewhat quickly,” Wadas said.
Barrick, a 23-year Detroit police veteran, said he called for a third ambulance. “They didn’t want the EMS,” he said. “They wanted to have a home birth.”
Barrick said his partner helped deliver the baby girl on the front porch, while he tried to keep the mother calm.
“I’ve got four children of my own, and I was there when they were born, so I’ve been through it,” he said. “But not like this.”
The birth took five to seven minutes, the cops said. “There wasn’t much time to think,” said Wadas, who transferred to Detroit from the Dallas Police Department a year ago. “The biggest key was, don’t drop the baby.
“I actually caught the baby, while my partner was keeping everyone calm,” Wadas said. “We were on speakerphone with the midwife, and making sure the mother was in a comfortable position.
“Then, because we were in the middle of effecting a stabbing arrest, we went from the birth to filling out a stabbing report,” Wadas said, adding she and her partner waited at the scene for the midwife to show up “just in case.”
The parents, who named the baby Olympia, according to the officers, were not available for comment Monday.
“They were very excited to be having a baby,” Wadas said. “They were a very happy couple. They had been planning a home birth for some time — although they probably didn’t expect having six police officers in the vicinity.”
Barrick said after the birth, “it was pretty much your typical aftermath — phone calls to aunts and uncles — except they added the part about police officers helping deliver the baby.”
Both officers said the incident was a refreshing change of pace.
“All everybody thinks is that we arrest people, and you see all the cellphone videos of the bad stuff,” Barrick said. “But we do positive things, too.”
Added Wadas, who was married the weekend after the incident: “The nice thing is, there’s no political side to this. There’s no racial side. It’s just parents who were happy to have a baby.
“It was a pleasure to experience that, and not have anything else matter but the birth of a baby girl,” Wadas said. “When the baby cried, I knew everything was going to be all right.”