Commissioners approve contract with new medical examiner service

Beginning at the first of the new year, Platte County’s medical examiner services will be handled by a private company in Kansas City, Kan.

Commissioners approved a $114,000 service agreement with Frontier Forensics Midwest at the Monday, Dec. 3 administrative session.

The fee for medical examiner services from the Jackson County Medical Examiner more than doubled this year. In June, commissioners approved a $259,038 agreement for services, but said they would actively search for alternatives. In 2017, Platte County paid Jackson County $125,835 and in 2016 services cost $92,293.

Most area governments utilized the services of the Jackson County Medical Examiner’s office for years because staffing, licensing and accreditation of medical examiner offices are cost-prohibitive for most entities. However, fees have skyrocketed due to construction of a new facility in Jackson County. Clay County formerly utilized the same services but balked at the increased cost this year and selected Frontier Forensics Midwest instead.

The new agreement runs for three years, with slight annual increases built into the contract. However, the cap for year three is at $124,000 – still a substantial savings over the Jackson County contract.

According to a representative from Frontier Forensics present at the meeting, eight counties in Missouri and Kansas now utilize their firm for medical examiner services.

Presiding commissioner Ron Schieber expressed optimism that private industry could provide better services at a lower cost.

Also at the meeting, the commissioners approved a $27,300 contract with Unite Private Networks to upgrade information services. A point-to-point fiber connection will be installed that will directly connect the Platte County Resource Center, located near KCI Airport, to the Platte County Administration Center in Platte City.

Information services head Ted Smith said the upgrade would improve connectivity and security between the two county facilities. It would also assist the county’s disaster recovery preparation efforts. The county’s emergency command center is housed in the resource center, in case the Platte City facilities become inaccessible.