By Wyatt Goolsby
WEST TEXAS - County officials across West Texas this week are trying to iron out the details to bring in a new Forensic Center to Odessa. The CEO of a Texas-based company told Newswest 9 on Tuesday, the blueprints are finished on a facility that will perform autopsies.
"There's a lot of advantages. I'm glad that there is a private entity out there that's seriously interested in doing this," Carl Rodgers, Chief Investigator with the Ector County Medical Examiner's Office, said.
When county officials in our area say they need an autopsy in an investigation, it's not unusual to transport the bodies across the state to Fort Worth, Austin, or Lubbock. Rogers told NewsWest 9 it's been that way since 1995, and said it can be tough on law enforcement and the taxpayers.
"It causes a problem for local law enforcement to be able to possibly attend some autopsies because of expense and time and man power, and it also delays from the standpoint of families having to delay their moving forward with final arrangements until we can get that body down there and get it back," Rogers explained.
Now, Rogers along with many in West Texas are hoping the Southeast Texas Forensic Center's plans to open a new facility in Odessa will pan out. This week, the CEO told NewsWest 9 she is continuing to visit with officials in Midland, Ector, Crane, Howard, and Tom Green counties among others.
"You have less in terms of population over that wider area which in itself would indicate fewer people, fewer deaths, fewer needs for autopsies," Rogers said. "So from that standpoint, it would appear to me that one facility serving a large area of West Texas probably is an accurate way of looking at this.
While talks are not final, company officials said construction is set to start soon at the corner of 3rd and Sam Houston in Odessa on a new Permian Basin Forensic Center. Many said it would be a good option for many nearby counties.
"Then we have the opportunity to eliminate transport costs on top of that," Rogers added. "Keep people off the road from a safety standpoint, be able to speed arrangements for the families, that's kind of a win-win for everybody involved."
The Southeast Texas Forensic Center's CEO will be traveling and meeting with West Texas officials for the rest of the week. She hopes to be back again in August, as they try to sort through the details.