ODESSA, Texas — The possibility of bringing a forensic center to Ector County was on the agenda of the Ector County Commissioners Court on Tuesday.
A company that conducts autopsies made a presentation to the commissioners to see if the county would consider creating its own forensic center.
Ron Inge, Chief Investigator for the Ector County Medical Examiner's Office, was also present at the time of the presentation.
Inge told NewsWest 9 that the county needs over 130 autopsies to be performed annually. Right now, all those bodies have to be taken to other counties for an autopsy.
" At one time we were going to Fort Worth, and now Fort Worth is pretty much out of the question," said Inge. "They are so inundated with cases that it has left us with going to Lubbock, which is a private company. They are so overwhelmed, that we don't know from day-to-day whether or not we will have a slot."
Inge said the county hopes to receive results faster and even cheaper. That is why outside help was considered.
"We have been looking probably for over a year of a way that we can bring an autopsy service here to the Odessa area," said Inge. "That is where I contacted Forensic Medical Management Services out of Tennessee."
According to Inge, the county is currently paying roughly about $3,000 per autopsy. At times, an additional cost is added whenever a pathologist needs to testify in court.
"If the forensic pathologist is called to testify to district court they are charging anywhere from $4,500 to $5,000 for a testimony fee," said Inge. "If this plan goes through, there would be no charge for the testimony since they are here."
Inge mentioned to the members of the commissioners court that the forensic center could benefit the community in more ways than one.
"Universities, colleges and even high schools that want to send people to observe autopsies would be able possibly," said Inge. "A lot of times when you have interns or residents, when they see the Odessa area, sometimes they want to stay."
At this time, the decision of whether this project will start has not been determined. Other things, like who will be in charge of the costs for the building, staff and equipment are still under discussion.