County executive asks that budget cut be restored for overwhelmed medical examiner's office

MILWAUKEE -- Officials with the Milwaukee County Medical Examiner's Office say they've been unusually busy, with a high number of autopsies needed for criminal investigations.

The Milwaukee County Medical Examiner's Office was dealing with investigations involving 32 bodies last week -- an all-time record.

"We have an inadequate, small, aging facility that occasionally floods or gets overrun by vermin," Brian Peterson said.

Brian Peterson, Milwaukee County medical examiner

Peterson said the five doctors and assistants have been able to keep up with the work, to quickly allow grieving families to get some closure, and provide evidence in police investigations.

But that could change.

"It was just stressful and of course, we don't have great temperature control. It was hot and humid down there," Peterson said.

There's also an unfilled position in the toxicology lab, increasing the stress in the Medical Examiner's Office.


"With all these drug cases, we're seeing the turnaround time increase. It's frustrating, but that's what we've got," Peterson said.

The increasing stress on this office is something that's being talked about by Milwaukee County officials.

This office is dealing with an across-the-board 1% budget cut, leaving the unfilled position in the toxicology lab.

Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele is asking that the budget cut be restored.

"Our ability to close cases and resolve them quickly depends on him being able to provide this service and I'm hoping this growing backlog will be enough urgency for the board to address this and add more funding so we can keep the medical examiner at the staffing level they need," Abele said.

Milwaukee County Board Chairman Theo Lipscomb said the Finance Committee is recommending additional funds for three other departments, but he said the administration failed to mention the request for funding for the Milwaukee County Medical Examiner's Office at a recent meeting.