Things heating up at ME’s office

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OKLAHOMA CITY -- A state lawmaker is pushing to fund construction for a new State Medical Examiner’s office in Edmond.  

State Senator Clark Jolley said the $42 million facility would be built on the University of Central Oklahoma campus.  

This week the cooler at the current facility broke and forced officials to move bodies out of the M.E.’s office.

"We've allowed this facility to get worse and worse and worse," Sen. Jolley, R-Edmond, said. "$42 million is the cost not just for the building but for all the equipment that's inside. Edmond North High School has a better science lab than the state medical examiner, it's embarrassing."

Sen. Jolley said if the funding is approved in the budget, a bond through UCO will pay for the facility.

Critics argue this is an inappropriate use of a bond that is designed for higher education.

“When you look at the partnership between the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation and UCO in developing the Forensic Science Institute, you can see the incredible benefits it has provided to not only forensic investigations in our state but to students who can now pursue a master’s degree in the field,” Sen. Jolley said.

“I believe constructing this much-needed facility for the Medical Examiner’s office holds tremendous potential for the public, for law enforcement and for education,” he said.

There are also some who believe the M.E.’s office needs to stay in Oklahoma City.

Terry Felts, who worked as an investigator with the Medical Examiner’s office, said the current location is important because it is near OU Medical Center and the health department.

"It's not a business. It's a service provided to the people of the state of Oklahoma and it needs to be where it already is," Felts said.

The decision to fund the new facility in Edmond is expected within the next couple of days.

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