The Arkansas medical examiners union has criticized a new contract between the state’s medical examiner and the state Department of Public Safety, saying it is “excessive” and a “sham.”
The contract between State Police and the Arkansas Medical Examiners Association (AMI) calls for the examiner to receive $200 per day for each exam he or she performs, but the union said that the $100 fee per exam will be set aside for a new grant program to fund research.
The state’s Department of Forensic Sciences has said the $200 fee per examiner will be used for grants to create new technology to identify and prosecute violent crime and domestic violence, and the new grant is funded with an additional $25,000 in fees to be distributed to the state crime lab and the office of the state medical examiner.
The State Police said the new contract will provide an incentive for examiners to focus on violent crimes, but union members say the money for that research is already there, in the state budget.
The contract, which will be effective immediately, also requires the examiner and state police to establish an online registry to track examiners who have received federal grant money.
The new contract was negotiated between the Arkansas Department of Emergency Services (DES) and the Medical Examiner Association of Arkansas (MEAA).
The MEAA said in a statement on Friday that the contract was signed by State Police Chief Mike McCarter on December 23, but did not provide a timeline for the new contracts.
The MEAA represents the medical examining public in the United States, Canada, New Zealand, South Africa and Mexico, among other countries.
The association has said it is seeking “the most transparent, effective, and equitable state contract in the country,” which could include requiring all state police examiners not to accept federal grant funds, which are meant to fund projects related to the investigation and prosecution of violent crimes.
The national Association of Medical Exams, which has been at the forefront of efforts to require the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate violent crime, called the new law “unnecessary, unwise, and a sham.”
“The Department of Homeland Security has a responsibility to ensure all law enforcement agencies are prepared to investigate and prosecute criminal offenses.
It is critical that we continue to have an efficient and safe system for this investigation,” the association said in an email to Politico.”
It is unfortunate that we have to pay an exorbitant fee to the State Police for the service of investigating and prosecuting violent crimes,” the MEAA added.
“We ask the Governor and Legislature to ensure that the State of Arkansas pays its medical examiner to protect the lives of the citizens of Arkansas.”