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Services to the Public
The Medical Examiner Department's (ME) mission statement printed above affirms that the department's main focus is on death investigation. Since all non-natural deaths occurring in the county are investigated by the department, this is clearly an important public service. What often escapes attention are the many other ways in which the ME serves the public. While some ME employees are attending crime scenes and working with police and CSI personnel, there are many other activities taking place that also benefit the public.
Hundreds of students and other guests visit the department each year to gain experience or to learn more about the world of forensic science. These visitors include medical doctors in Fellowship or pathology training programs; law students; graduate and undergraduate students pursuing studies in chemistry, photography, forensic science or criminal justice; law enforcement personnel; police and fire/rescue cadets and many others. Some stay for an entire year while others may be visiting for just a few hours.
Since 2008 the ME has participated in a national initiative under the direction of the U.S. Department of Justice known as "NamUs." This federal effort is linking information from ME and coroner databases on unidentified persons with police missing persons' information in an attempt to assist families in knowing what happened to missing loved ones. Our department has 300 unidentified cases dating back to the 1950's. Utilizing the assistance of forensic science students from the University of Florida and other schools, our department has been able to re-enter data from these cases into the new system and to incorporate DNA technology. The department has already had several success stories.
Annually the ME submits toxicology data from its cases to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) through the Medical Examiner Commission, which collects similar data from each of the state's ME offices and publishes its "Drugs in Deceased Persons Report." This report allows the public, the law enforcement community, and public health officials to identify the drugs that are found in deceased persons, these drugs sometimes being the cause of death. This report has been instrumental in the state's recent efforts to close "pill mills" and provide better regulations over the prescribing of certain medications.
The ME works with a number of local agencies in efforts to guide youthful offenders into more positive lifestyles. These agencies include the GATE Program and the Boot Camp Program sponsored by the Miami-Dade Corrections Department.
With the cost of standard funerals running into the thousands of dollars, the county offers the Public Interment Program (PIP) to assist families with final disposition arrangements. The PIP operates under the direction of the ME and handles more than 800 cases each year.
Organ and Tissue Donation
The ME cooperates closely with Life Alliance, the University of Miami Bone & Tissue Bank and the Florida Lions Eye Bank in a concerted effort to provide patients much needed organ and tissue transplants. Thousands of patients locally benefit from these organ and tissue gifts provided by caring donor families.Back to Top Page Last Edited: Tue May 15, 2012 9:55:08 AM
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