BALDWIN COUNTY, Ala. (WKRG) – There’s no question Baldwin County is growing. That’s why coroner Brian Pierce says his office needs full-time support now more than ever.
“With increased call volumes, the complexity of cases, multiple calls occurring at the same time staffing that’s traditionally been temporary and part time is not a very stable model,” Pierce said earlier this month at a Baldwin County Commission work session.
This month he’s asked Baldwin County Commissioners to consider adding two full-time death investigators in the coroner’s office to keep up with demand. Right now, many of the part-time, temporary investigators are first responders and Pierce says that business model won’t work much longer.
“This makes our staffing extremely fragile during times of large incidents like hurricanes, the pandemic, time of sickness and absenteeism we don’t have anybody to depend on. Most of these people have other jobs and if that job calls them primary during a large scale incident we’re left holding the bag,” he added.
Pierce is pushing for his office to become more of an agency, rather than having the current model and not enough staff. The number of death investigations are rising according to an annual reported submitted to the county commission. In 2019 there were 479 cases. By 2021 that number increased to 663. 13% of these cases were visitors to Baldwin County, according to the report.
“Our mission statement should be the same for a snowbird from Minnesota or a high-profile homicide. We want an accurate cause of death that will give closure to families and information for law enforcement,” Pierce said.
The report went on to say, “We will work diligently toward achieving the Strategic Goal put forth by the County Commission: For Baldwin County to experience a Coroner’s Office that is prepared to serve its functional population and is prepared for a Mass Casualty Incident. As Baldwin County County grows, so should our ability to serve it.”
Despite the plea for help, county commissioners tabled the request this month until they can decide how much this will cost the county. We reached out to the Baldwin County Commission and to Coroner Pierce for additional comment, but we have not heard back.