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Will County Coroner

The Coroner is an elected office serving for a four year term. The Coroner's office is a law enforcement agency, which, as part of the system of checks and balances, investigates deaths that occur in the county elected. The Coroner's jurisdiction is determined by where a death actually occurs, not where a particular incident/accident happened that might have caused the death.

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    Laurie Summers

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    James J. Piacentini

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    Zohaib Khan (Write-in)

Biographical Information

What recommendations do you have for improving the systems and processes used by the Coroner's office to conduct investigations?

What are your qualifications for the position of County Coroner?

My recommendation to improve the investigation process is to modernize the software system within the Coroners office. We need to ensure that the Deputy Coroner’s, the Cold Case Deputy’s and our administrative staff has the latest and best technology. Our continuing education budget should be increased, these MedicoLegal Death Investigation classes are paramount for our staff to do their jobs to the best of their abilities. These continuing education classes are required to keep up some of their certifications. A new modernized Morgue is at the top of this list, a thorough death investigation is a “Team effort” and every job within the Coroners office is important in these death investigations. We are writing the last chapter in someone’s life. Giving them these tools will help them excel in their job duties.
My background in Nursing, Administration, my time as a Will County Board member for District 1 and serving as Deputy Chief Coroner this past year has prepared me for this next step. Because of the guidance and mentoring of Patrick O'Neil, who served as our Coroner for twenty eight years, On August 31st 2020 Coroner Pat O’Neil retired, I currently am the Designated Interim Coroner. I am filling all the job duties of the Coroner and have transitioned into this roll with ease. I am ready for the next step as your duly elected Will County Coroner.
Having continuing education with all the deputy coroners. Being involved with the fire service on medical side, there is always on going changes in that field. I would update things as they change.I think Pat O'Neil retiring prior to the election is helping Laurie Summers. Also updating the computers in the office to be able to better determine the DNA on cases. I will be more involved with the deputies on cases. With my background in the medical field, pharmacology and photography I think I bring experience
I have an Associates Degree in Criminal Justice Involved in the fire service for 43 years, 36 years as an Emergency Medical Technician, 40 years holding a Certified Pharmacy Technician license. As a professional photographer I have worked with police departments on crime scenes and with arson investigation team on fires to find the cause and origin. I was a member of a police cadet training for 3 years.
I will implement advanced technology known as Forensic Genetic Genealogy, which converts sequenced DNA into files that can be uploaded to DNA Genealogy Database called GED Match and Family Tree DNA, to solve cold cases. For the last 28 years previous Coroner Pat O’Neil, did not implement any new processes or system improvements. Instead, he retired 2 months prior to the elections, so he can place Laurie Summers as an Interim Coroner. He forgot that people elect the Coroner not him. In 2019 Coroner’s Office had an annual budget of $2,011,103.94 and 51% which is $1,029,653.76 was spent on Total Salaries. Only $850 was utilized for Continuing Education and Training, which is 0.04 %, not even 1 full percent. I will make sure that all employees are fully trained by allocating at least 1 % of the budget for Continuing Education, Training and Re-certification. If elected, I would seek additional grant funding for the Coroner’s office and decline to take pension as an added cost-saving measure
I have 2 academic degrees, Masters and Bachelors, both in Criminal Justice which aligns well with the Coroner’s office as Law Enforcement Agency. I was a member of Honors Society and recipient of Cum Laude Award for having one of the highest distinctions in academic studies. My medical and healthcare license include Pharmacy Technician for over 18 years.