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Duval Medical Examiner Seeks Larger Building As Drug Deaths Mount

Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.
Finalwitness via Flickr
The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

For the third year in a row, the proposed Jacksonville city budget contains no money for updating or expanding the medical examiner’s office —that’s despite an increased workload and overcrowding from drug-overdose deaths.

On Friday, Duval Medical Examiner Valerie Rao presented the City Council Finance Committee with a $4.5 million funding request.

She pointed to mass casualties like last year’s Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando as one reason to build a new, larger facility in Duval.

“If we were to have that in Jacksonville,” Rao said, “I don’t think we would be able to handle that physically. I mean, we could do the autopsies, but the facility’s not there to accommodate that type of a disaster.”

The Duval County medical examiner’s office was last expanded in the 1990’s for around $6 million, according to Jacksonville Chief Administrative Officer Sam Mousa.

Rao told the Finance Committee that federal grants could help pay for a new building, and she asked for help from city grant writers.

She also agreed to provide City Council members with daily reports about the number of autopsies her office conducts.

The Jacksonville City Council Finance Committee is set to resume budget hearings this Thursday.

Photoused under Creative Commons license. 

Contact Cyd Hoskinson at, 904-358-6351 and on Twitter at @cydwjctnews.

Copyright 2020 WJCT News 89.9. To see more, visit .

Cyd Hoskinson began working at WJCT on Valentine’s Day 2011.