By Ashley Conroy
JACKSON, MS (WLBT) - After hiring an "official" State Medical Examiner in Mississippi, the Department of Public Safety says more are needed.
In Mississippi, 1,500 to 1,700 autopsies a year are sent to the State Medical Examiner's office in Jackson. Of these, 350 are homicide.
"I think really that five physicians and the support staff would be an excellent medical examiner's office for Mississippi," said Commissioner Steve Simpson.
For nearly 15 years, the state operated with a contract with a local doctor Dr. Steve Hayne to conduct autopsies.
DPS says Hayne was conducting upwards of 1,500 per year. However, Simpson says they wanted to complete more thorough investigations.
To fill these demands, DPS' goal is to get 3 in central Mississippi, one in Northern Mississippi, and one along the Coast.
The reason, Simpson says, is because the demands of being a medical examiner require multiple court appearances throughout the year.
"These physicians are routinely required to come to court and wait for some period of time before you can be called as a witness," Simpson said. "And then be subjected to cross examination by the defense attorney and then return to his duties at the lab."
However, Carolyn Green from the Mississippi Coroners Medical Examiner's Association says there have been instances where autopsies have to wait because of a back log of cases.
"Other coroners have the same complaints that I do. We have no communication from down there," Green said.
Green operates out of Lee County and says in many cases a back-up facility would serve their needs.
"They need to make sure that we have a back-up plan, so that if this were to happen again in the future that it's not just words that we have another facility that will back us up on a daily basis regardless of the case load."
As of now, Simpson says they are working to hire the additional coroners in Mississippi in the next several months.
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