As Paul Parker has been saying for years, the role of professionally certified medicolegal death investigators (MDI) cannot be overstated. As Paul detailed in a response to the PBS Frontline Postmortem series a few years ago, MDIs are the ones who physically respond to the death scene and initiate the all-important investigation that must be independent of law enforcement agencies and medical facilities. In some fortunate jurisdictions, MDIs are also the folks who show up at your door in the middle of the night and perform the death notification, not law enforcement. After performing the notification, these well-trained investigators are then tasked with obtaining as much information as possible about the decedent from the grieving family members — a task that is difficult, to say the least. For those jurisdictions fortunate enough to be served by ABMDI-certified MDIs, they benefit from the specialized training these professionals have in the emotionally draining, difficult, and sometimes dangerous tasks oftentimes not performed by anyone else. Funding and ultimately mandating this certification will greatly increase the proficiency of death investigations conducted by the nation’s Medical Examiner and Coroner offices. The below recommendation is finally a major acknowledgment of the importance of MDIs, no matter the outcome.
The U.S. Department of Justice’s National Commission on Forensic Science recently recommended the use of grant funds to defray the cost of ensuring all MDIs and coroners (functioning as MDIs) in the United States obtain professional certification by the year 2020. It also recommended that funding be provided for the registration of two, one-week continuing education training courses for each eligible MDI.
For additional information, access the entire National Commission on Forensic Science recommendation at http://tinyurl.com/okwelw7