LETTERS: Medical Examiner’s Office proudly has made great strides

SHARE LETTERS: Medical Examiner’s Office proudly has made great strides
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The Cook County medical examiner’s office was the subject of a Sun-Times Sunday report that found the office routinely fails to send investigators to the scene of suspicious deaths. | Sun-Times files

The Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office is an independent medico-legal agency that has instituted reforms and achieved national recognition in recent years.

In 2016, the office regained full accreditation from the National Association of Medical Examiners. The office complies with all requirements, including in investigations, which is staffed 24/7 to accept more than 13,000 death notifications a year.

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Scene investigations have increased by 90 percent since 2014 and all new investigators must be nationally certified within two years of hire. It is the forensic pathologists, not the investigators, who rely on their medical training to determine cause and manner of death. A scene investigation is not necessary for the nearly 6,000 cases our office handles each year.

Scene investigations are mandatory for certain cases, including those that involve law enforcement. However, an investigator can be dispatched only if there is an actual scene. Your editorial cited the cases of Laquan McDonald, Bettie Jones and Quintonio LeGrier. McDonald died in a hospital a day after he was shot. Regarding LeGrier and Jones, the office was not notified of a police shooting until hours after the incident. Notification of the death of Donald Markham was made after the body was already en route to our office.

Doing a scene investigation for every case would require tripling the investigations staff at a cost of approximately $5 million — the same amount that funded the entire office 10 years ago.

We are proud of our accomplishments, the progress we have made since 2012 and our record of fiscal responsibility while providing an essential County service.

Ponni Arunkumar, M.D.,

chief medical examiner, Cook County

Destroying our nation’s gifts to all

Our national parks — the living rooms and parlors of our land, into which we invite honored guests and visiting diplomats — are kept pristine by dedicated personnel who spend their working lives protecting and nurturing the natural treasures contained within.

We can visit, admire and be awed and delighted and renewed in spirit by the grandeur of our parks. How beautiful is the country in which we live. We have land enough to live our daily lives and still have areas we love and treasure — too lovely, too rich to spoil.

In their wisdom and love of nature, past American presidents moved to preserve the gift of these priceless lands, safeguarding them from destruction. But now the parks are being taken from us by leaders who can’t see beyond the green of money to the green of nature.

Does a real citizen take away gifts for the sake of his own wealth? Whoever could do that could be capable of robbing anyone of anything, even their very freedoms. Our National Parks are being stolen from us. Does anyone care?

R.S. Hosek, Near North Side

All the worst traits in one president

Remember when George W. Bush was thought of as a dunce, a manipulated puppet of the rich and powerful? And remember Bill Clinton, who spent most of his second term in office in disgrace as a sexual predator. And how about everyone’s favorite arch-villain, Richard M. Nixon, who brought new meaning to the definition of obstruction of justice?

Oh, how I long for the good days, when bipartisanship was only endangered and not lost to the ages. Whoever said Donald Trump can’t multitask was doing a disservice to our leader. In combining all of the worst character traits of his predecessors, he has proven to be an irritant to party loyalists and political adversaries alike.

The old days, even at their worst, look better all the time.

Bob Ory, Elgin

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