The newly-elected St.Clair County coroner says his background in police work will help prepare him for his new job.
Calvin Dye, 69, said the coroner’s duties are mostly investigative.
”There’s a big misperception out there that the coroner has to have a medical background,” Dye said. “The pathologist does all of the autopsies. The coroner’s job mainly is to conduct investigations involving suspicious and undetermined deaths.”
He said his predecessor, Rick Stone, who held the office for 30-plus years, also had a background in law enforcement. Stone, who died Saturday, was a former East St. Louis detective and was an investigator for the St. Clair County state’s attorney’s office.
Dye. who is the first black coroner in St. Clair County, said he sought the coroner’s job because he felt it was a perfect fit for him and his investigative background.
Dye, who hails from East St. Louis, became an Illinois state trooper in 1975. He worked with ISP for 29 years before retiring. There, Dye worked homicide investigations, narcotics and violent crimes, fugitive cases and conducted street-gang investigations.
In 2004, he went back to ISP for an additional five years, working under contract to investigate Medicaid fraud. After the contract ran out, Dye retired again in 2009. He was then hired by former St. Clair County Sheriff Mearl Justus as an assistant chief of the St. Clair County courthouse bailiffs. Dye worked this job for 22 months. Next up for him was a job as an investigator with St. Clair County State’s Attorney Brendan Kelly’s office, where he is currently working.
”I went there because it was another opportunity for me to use my skills as an investigator. It is also my passion,” Dye said. In his job with the state’s attorney’s office Dye worked with the child support division and the violent crime division.
He is also the chairman of the Metro-East Police District Commission since December 2012 when former Gov. Pat Quinn appointed him to the position.
Dye said he wanted to see improvements in the four struggling police departments that the commission oversees: Alorton, Washington Park, Brooklyn and East St. Louis. He said the commission is gradually making progress but it is an ongoing task.
”It’s slow because you’re dealing with four different police departments. None of them want to lose their autonomy,” Dye said.
Kelly had praise for Dye.
“Cal has a reputation for integrity among local law enforcement, and he will be thoughtful and gentle with folks dealing with the death of a loved one,” Kelly said.
Kelly said he and Dye will work closely together “to get better data on the overdose epidemic hitting our area.”
Dye said he will be be a coroner who will be there for the people. He plans to be at every homicide, fatal traffic accident and suicide scene. He also plans to work with all of the local, state, and county police departments as well as all social service agencies
He said he plans to be empathetic and sympathetic to the people.
”I have been involved in a lot of tragic situations, so I understand. I will always be available for any grieving family,” he said.
Dye is married and has three children: Calvin Dye Jr., who is a trooper and public information officer with ISP, Rayonda Dye and Candace Hubbard. He is marrried to Barbara Dye.
He is a member of New Life Community Church in East St. Louis.
Dye said he thanks the people of St. Clair County County for giving him the opportunity. He said the people can count on him to run the coroner’s office professionally when he takes over in December.
”I will not let them down. I promised them that the office would be run with integrity,” he said.
There are ten employees in the office — four full-time deputy coroners, three part-time deputy coroners, an office manager, a secretary and the coroner, Dye said.