Jefferson County Coroner's Office hiring first new deputies in 40 years

Budget provides for two new deputy coroners

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) – Just about every three days, Louisville Metro experiences a homicide.

That's according to numbers from Louisville Metro Council. That statistic, paired with increasing overdose deaths, has the Jefferson County Coroner's Office inundated with so many calls.

Relief is on the way as the newly approved budget aims to help the men and women who say they're running out of rooms and manpower.

The Coroner's Office handles every death in Jefferson County that happens outside of a hospital.

Add that to the department no longer having its own morgue, that La Grange Road location is now being operated by the state.

Two new Deputy Coroners are coming to the Jefferson County Coroner's Office, thanks to $170,000 that has been approved in the 2017-2018 Metro budget.

Jo Ann Farmer, Chief Deputy Coroner tells WHAS 11, “We're just overflowing and we are having to use an outside facility we can rent cots and put them into a cooler system.”

Farmer says the high homicide rate and opioid crisis in our area is a factor in their rising case load, as she adds, “I can remember when we had two or more overdoses per month, we thought we really had a lot – now we are averaging 2 or 3 overdose deaths every 24 hour shift.”

David James, District 6 Metro Councilman tells us, “They were having an expansion of deaths whether it be from violence or overdoses in any way shape or form and they needed our help.”

James says the Coroner's Office asked for extra deputies and to expand the morgue on La Grange Road. The two new positions will be the first deputy coroners added to the staff since 1977.

“We're stretched so thin we are holding up police at scenes where they wait for us to get there and we just could not meet it in a timely manner anymore, it's been that way for several years,” Farmer said.

The Coroner's Office works with all the police departments in the entire county, not just LMPD.

It also holds bodies of unidentified people or those who have pending funeral arrangements.

“We are extremely grateful for them giving us what they did,” Farmer said.

Hundreds of thousands in the budget are geared towards addiction services and helping the police but in the immediate future, the Coroner's Office says these new additions are critical.

There are currently 9 deputy coroners and we're told adding new staff and the morgue expansion could come as soon as mid-July.

Mayor Greg Fischer is expected to sign the budget later this week.

© 2017 WHAS-TV


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