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story.lead_photo.caption Roger Morris

FAYETTEVILLE -- Roger Morris plans to run for a ninth term as Washington County coroner.

Morris, 51, a Democrat, said Friday he has the experience, skills and training the county needs.

What coroners do

Coroners determine the cause and manner of death. They work also work with local law enforcement and deal with grieving families. A coroner is elected by voters in each county.

Source: Staff report

Coroners determine the cause and manner of death. They work in tandem with law enforcement and help grieving families, Morris said.

Morris has worked as coroner 16 years and in funeral homes about 30 years, he said.

He oversees three part-time coroner deputies and one full-time office manager, he said. The coroner position became a full-time position in 2009. The annual pay for Morris is $117,834.

Morris said the number of calls for coroner services increased about 100 from 2016 to 2017. But the number of employees for his office has remained the same, Morris said. As the population continues to grow, the county must maintain quality service, he said.

Precise numbers for how many deaths Morris and his staff handled in 2017 and 2016 weren't available Friday because of software difficulties at the county. However, the office's cooler holds up to six bodies and is rarely empty, Morris said. The county may eventually need a smaller cooler to keep up with demand, he said.

The county also may need to turn part-time positions into full time. Employees have not been added to the office in years. Morris has kept the budget from growing and found ways to save, Morris said.

For example, Morris altered two vehicles into removal vehicles last year, instead of buying new vehicles, he said. His office, near the Washington County Detention Center, has two altered vehicles, two vans and one truck, which is used to deliver bodies to Little Rock.

The office's budget is about $337,000 for this year.

Morris said he has focused on education for himself and deputies to help keep Washington County ahead of other places.

He said he's trained in death investigation, law enforcement and forensic science. He plans to take a bone-recognition course this year.

Morris' training includes a program through the American Board of Medicolegal Death Investigators and The New York City Office of Chief Medical Examiner, he said.

The board is a not-for-profit, independent professional certification board for death investigators who deal with legal and medical cases, according to the group's website. The New York City office provides training and conducts forensic science investigations, according to its website.

No other candidates have announced plans to run against Morris.

Candidates for county office can file to run between noon Feb. 22 and noon March 1. The primary election is May 22.

NW News on 01/06/2018

Print Headline: Morris announces re-election bid

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