Medicolegal Death Investigator, Chief

Established: 03/91
Revised: 01/93
Reactivated and Revised: 06/07; 07/08
Revised and Retitled: 12/13; 07/19
FLSA: Exempt
EEO: 3

Class Characteristics

Under direction, to plan, organize and supervise the activities and staff of the County's Medical Examiner's Office as Chief of the office and staff; to participate in program planning and evaluation (as described in ORS Chapter 146); to conduct or supervise the investigation of deaths occurring under violent, questionable or unexplained circumstances (as described in ORS Chapter 146); to prepare or review detailed reports relating to deceased persons; and to do other work as required.

Distinguishing Characteristics

The Medical Examiner’s Office within the Department of Disaster Management investigates and certifies the cause and manner of deaths occurring under violent, questionable or unexplained circumstances in cooperation with the District Attorney's Office, County law enforcement agencies and private organizations. 

The Medicolegal Death Investigator, Chief receives direction from the Director of Disaster Management and the Oregon State/County Medical Examiner.  The Medicolegal Death Investigator, Chief is responsible for the investigation of deaths as required by ORS Chapter 146, supervision of all County Medical Examiner staff, and is the primary contact for the State Medical Examiner, the County District Attorney’s Office, local law enforcement, and others as needed regarding all cases.  The activities of the County Medical Examiner's Office are conducted in cooperation with the District Attorney's Office, County law enforcement agencies and private organizations, and are subject to the review and direction of the Oregon State Medical Examiner's Office.  The incumbent is responsible for the administration of programs and policies, including the supervision, review, and/or performance of death investigations.

The Medicolegal Death Investigator, Chief differs from the Medicolegal Death Investigator classification which performs investigations and prepares detailed reports relating to deceased persons, but does not have full supervisory and management responsibilities.

Typical Tasks

Duties may include but are not limited to the following:

  1. Manages the activity of the County Medical Examiner’s Office as prescribed by state statutes and as directed by the State/County Medical Examiner and the Director of Disaster Management; develops and implements policies and procedures; schedules 24-hour staffing for death investigations; authorizes leave requests and overtime as necessary; maintains complete case files on all medical examiner cases.
  2. Participates in the recruitment and selection process for Medical Examiner staff; makes hiring recommendations to State/County Medical Examiner and Department Director; supervises and evaluates work performance through analysis of reports and discussion of investigation to provide quality service to citizens and County staff; reviews all case investigations for completeness and accuracy; conducts and/or facilitates staff training and development programs; prepares and delivers performance evaluations; recommends and administers progressive discipline; promotes cooperative team efforts among staff and with other County departments.
  3. Supervises and conducts investigations and responds to requests from State and County law enforcement agencies; provides on-call response to death investigations; takes custody of the body, the personal effects of the deceased and any weapons, instruments, vehicles, buildings or premises which are believed to be involved in the death; preserves evidence relating to the cause and manner of death; testifies in criminal and civil proceedings relating to the cause and manner of death.
  4. Conducts in-service training seminars for police, fire and EMS personnel and presentations for private sector partners; responds to questions and requests for information from the media and the public.
  5. Develops and implements programs of the Medical Examiner’s Office; manages, monitors and evaluates program effectiveness in meeting established objectives; develops and recommends operational policies and procedures, and ensures compliance with Federal and State statutes, rules and regulations; purchases equipment and materials specific to the operation of the Medical Examiner’s Office. 
  6. Conducts public relations and outreach activities; designs, develops and maintains community partnerships aimed at improved office efficiency; participates in regional and state organizations, commissions, task forces and committees to promote and coordinate increased efficiency and cooperation; monitors effectiveness of public/private partnership relations.
  7. Compiles and analyzes data concerning deaths; designs, implements and maintains data collection systems for timely receipt of medical and social history in cooperation with County multi-disciplinary teams; compiles statistics on deaths and causes of deaths in the County used for required reporting and to improve the cooperation of partners to reduce specific causes of death.
  8. Makes death notifications to family members of the deceased; interviews witnesses and relatives of the deceased; takes photographs of death scene; examines body for signs of injury or suspicious death; recommends further criminal or pathological investigations as indicated; communicates findings at death scene along with history and circumstances of death to the pathologist; receives direction and facilitates necessary pathological examinations as indicated.

Required Knowledge and Skills

Thorough Knowledge of: Effective methods of medical and criminal investigation; state statutes regulating death investigations; medical and anatomical terminology; basic rules of legal evidence; recordkeeping and reporting techniques.

Working Knowledge of: Principles and practices of supervision and training; participative management theories; public relations techniques; fiscal monitoring techniques; statistical calculations and gathering methods; public relations techniques; disaster management functions.

Skill to: Determine and obtain evidence; obtain information from lay and expert witnesses concerning matters of an intimate nature and serious consequence; communicate effectively, both orally and in writing; safely handle medical equipment and instruments, bio-hazards, and chemicals; direct staff in continuous efforts to improve quality productivity and effectiveness; incorporate team participation in decision making; respond to changes desired by citizens and County staff; compile and analyze statistics; prepare clear and concise reports; implement and maintain cost containment procedures; establish and maintain effective working relationships with medical, law enforcement and County personnel, and the public.

Working Conditions

Duties in the field require walking, stepping, squatting, bending, balancing, fine motor control and the ability to lift, carry, push and pull up to 50 pounds, lift and carry 50 pounds while climbing stairs, and push/pull 150 pounds. Duties involve exposure to confined spaces, working at heights, slippery and/or uneven surfaces, adverse weather conditions, environmental, biological, and/or health hazards, and unpleasant elements at death scenes.

Other Requirements

Must be registered by The American Board of Medicolegal Death Investigators. 

Must be willing to work scheduled 24-hour on-call shifts.  Requires on-call availability beyond assigned shifts.

Must be available for 24-hour on-call rotation for the disaster management program, and be available for either on or off scene, in the event of Emergency Operations Center activation.

Must successfully pass an extensive background investigation including national fingerprint records check.

Must pass a pre-employment drug test.

Employment is contingent upon passing a post-offer physical assessment.  Accommodation requests will be reviewed on an individual basis in compliance with State and Federal legislation.  

Driving is required for County business on a regular basis or to accomplish work.  Incumbents must possess a valid driver's license, and possess and maintain an acceptable driving record throughout the course of employment.

Minimum Recruiting Standards

Any satisfactory combination of experience and training that demonstrates possession of the required knowledge and skills.

Edited: 08/16


2051 Kaen Road Oregon City, OR 97045

Office Hours:

Monday to Thursday
7 a.m. to 6 p.m.

For employment verification: