Oklahoma medical examiner says his office is making strides

BY DARLA SLIPKE dslipke@opubco.com Published: August 12, 2011
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Pfeifer said the agency will work to stay on top of those payments in the future.

District investigators

Also during Thursday's meeting, board members discussed resources for district investigators working outside metropolitan areas of the state.

Several months ago, Dr. Andrew Sibley, who was serving as interim state medical examiner, raised concerns about efficiency and compensation methods for those investigators. Some were logging 10-hour workweeks and being paid for full-time work, Sibley said.

On Thursday, the board discussed ways to better utilize district investigators. Their ideas included expanding the jurisdiction for each investigator, creating a “hybrid system” that could include full-time and part-time investigators, or switching to an on-call system where the closest investigator to a case would respond.

The board's chairman appointed a three-person committee to assess the situation and provide a report to the board during a future meeting. The state has 10 full-time district investigators who work outside the Oklahoma City and Tulsa metro areas. The agency has positions on the books for five more field investigators but lacks funds to hire people for those positions, Pfeifer said.

He said the district investigators are “crucial.” Some days, some non-metro areas of the state aren't covered.

“These gaps bother me,” Pfeifer said. “Even on days that we've got adequate or fairly good coverage, there are still parts of the state that aren't covered.”