COVID-19, homicides and ODs strain Indiana coroner’s budget

The Marion County coroner’s office budget has been strained from deaths from COVID-19, drug overdoses and rising homicides in Indianapolis.

Funding started to run low in October and the office needed to ask for more money to make it through the end of the year, The Indianapolis Star reported Tuesday.

“Right at the end of the first quarter, we were seeing some startling numbers,” Chief Deputy Coroner Alfie McGinty told the newspaper. “And it would essentially be a miracle if trends started to decrease, where we were seeing fewer deaths each and every month.”

Earlier this month, the Indianapolis City-County Council agreed to send $385,000 to the coroner’s office.

McGinty said the office predicted as early as April that it would need more money after three mass shootings claimed the lives of 17 people and an unborn child. The office sought more funds from the city, saying the number of death investigations had become unmanageable at current staffing levels between the number of homicides and overdoses, which require autopsies or toxicology exams.

A simple death investigation can cost, on average, $1,100 to $1,600. McGinty said the more complex investigations, such as someone who has died from multiple gunshot wounds, can cost upward of $1,700.

“There are so many things that go into a death investigation that cost,” she said. “The little things add up so quickly.”

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