Brazos County Commissioners Hear Update On Bringing Medical Examiner's Office To Region

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BRYAN, Texas A local medical examiner's office has long been on the wish list of the Brazos County Commissioners and local law enforcement.

It could lower both the time and the cost of investigations of deaths and major crimes for all of our local counties.

Friday afternoon Commissioners Court met in a workshop to take a look at making it happen.

Knowing why people died and solving crimes is crucial work for those who uphold the law.

"We are growing for the foreseeable future," said Michael Parks, who is the Assistant Executive Director of the Brazos Valley Council of Governments.

Currently remains have to be sent out of town for autopsy at a cost of about $2,500 per case.

"Oftentimes when we take things to Austin or to Houston the turnaround time is eight weeks to eight months. Well when the District Attorney needs information, when the sheriff or police departments need information you can't just wait that long. That's people's lives that have been put on hold pending the outcome of a lab or a test," said Parks.

BVCOG estimates it would cost at least $700,000 a year to operate a medical examiner's office and a new facility could cost as much as $4 million to build.

A cheaper suggestion includes buying the old DPS Office on Highway 6 which is up for auction soon.

Brazos County Justice of the Peace Tommy Munoz has been a long time supporter of establishing a local medical examiner's office.

"If we had a medical examiners office here locally it would save on that cost and the transportation cost," said Munoz of who represents Precinct 2, Place 2 in Brazos County.

Sheriff Chris Kirk says not only Brazos County would benefit.

"Being able to partner with other counties is essential to this and also there's some partnerships here in the community that was can reach out to," he said.

"I think it will in the long term can save us money and I think we can not only save the counties in the area money, but possibly the cities," said Duane Peters, Brazos County Judge.

The Brazos Valley Council of Governments will next visit commissioners in the six other counties to see if they support the plan and also look into how much each county would be willing to pay to make it happen.

A local medical examiner's office would also potentially be able to do DNA testing at some point.

The DPS Crime lab in Austin processed more than 5,900 DNA cases from across the state last year.