Paul R. Parker III is a 26-year public sector professional. Paul has over 18 years of medicolegal death investigation experience, to include seven years in Chief Investigator roles at San Diego County (CA) and Maricopa County (Phoenix, AZ), two of the country’s largest Medical Examiner’s Offices (MEO), and the Director of the Pinal County Medical Examiner’s Office, a growing MEO between Phoenix and Tucson. Local and state agencies consult Paul on medicolegal death investigation issues, request guidance about preferred MEO operations and practices, and are recipients of his medicolegal education and outreach programs.
Paul is a Registered Diplomate with the American Board of Medicolegal Death Investigators (D-ABMDI, #790) and has conducted in excess of 15,000 medicolegal death investigations and reviewed and approved reports and circumstances of an additional 20,000 medicolegal death investigations. Paul was a member of the California Coroner Curriculum Development Committee and was an instructor at the California Coroner Academy.
Paul is a former Arizona Peace Officer Standards and Training (AZPOST) certified police officer, having graduated as the #1 overall recruit in the Phoenix Regional Police Academy’s Class #242 and, in the process, was awarded five of the six possible recruit awards (overall recruit, academics, firearms, report writing, and exemplary recruit). Paul held the rank of police aide, police recruit, police officer, police detective, police sergeant, police lieutenant, and acting police chief at the Youngtown Police Department in a law enforcement career that spanned from 1989 to 1999. During his law enforcement career, Paul was an AZPOST general instructor, field training officer, and hostage negotiator. He was the 1989 Police Aide of the Year, 1994 Police Officer of the Year, and received two lifesaving awards, one for his role as the negotiator in the peaceful resolution of a hostage situation and the other for his efforts during a medical emergency involving a Youngtown citizen. Paul was the Town Council’s first choice for Police Chief in 1999 but turned down the appointment to pursue his passion for death investigations.
After conducting death investigations, death notifications, and interacting with next-of-kin for many years; experiencing the death of a few close relatives; and surviving a life and death situation as a police officer, Paul realized that each of us write our own life story but when we die the last chapter of that story will be written by someone else. There is no greater honor than writing that thorough, factual, and compassionate last chapter and Paul is proud to say he has spent over 15 years doing so for thousands of people.
During his MEO career, Paul was fortunate to work with many outstanding death investigators and support personnel who choose to do the most noble of jobs in an under-paid, under-appreciated, and overly-stressed work environment. Paul noticed that there were books, articles, guidelines, and checklists pertaining to just about every conceivable type of death but hardly any literature or case studies of proper management in the medicolegal death investigation field. As such, he dedicated himself to providing ethical and professional managerial services to those employees, as they deserved nothing less.
Paul believes that a lack of managerial training and resulting substandard managerial performance; misguided managerial focus; and managerial inaction, to include the ignoring and/or avoidance of problem issues and personnel; ultimately results in the creation and maintenance of a toxic work environment and the “big picture” becomes foggy, if not completely invisible. In this environment, “cancerous” employees infect the environment to the point that the good employees either leave or lose the motivation and dedication to a job well done. Paul focuses on improving interpersonal relationships among co-workers along with an emphasis on emotional well-being in the workplace, and the importance of communication, expectations, accountability, and rewarding performance. In addition to ensuring that ME/C operations are system-based and efficient, Paul believes that the emotional health of an ME/C office and its employees are oftentimes overlooked and provides assessment and training in this critical area.
Paul also believes that all death investigation employees must be cognizant of the “big picture,” which is centered upon the interactions they have with everyone, specifically the next-of-kin, how they present themselves to and in the public, how their reports reflect their level of competence, and acknowledgement that they have many customers, not just the pathologists. Paul is committed to ensuring the “big picture” purpose and role of a Medical Examiner/Coroner (ME/C) Office remain visible to its employees or administrators. He provides training to ME/C personnel about the “big picture,” how it starts at the top of every organization and is filtered down through the managers and frontline supervisors, and how to maintain a focus upon it.
Paul spends his time studying, researching, writing about, and speaking about medicolegal death investigation issues; ME/C managerial and operational practices; recruitment of qualified ME/C personnel; the creation and maintenance of medicolegal investigative competence; and proper interaction with next-of-kin, law enforcement personnel, and health care providers.
Paul lives in Fountain Hills, Arizona and in his free time can be found biking the many scenic and bicycle-friendly roads throughout Arizona.