Editorials

We don’t need 97 volunteers to collect dead bodies

New requirements for volunteer deputy coroners

St. Clair County Coroner Calvin Dye Sr. has established new requirements for becoming a volunteer deputy coroner.
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St. Clair County Coroner Calvin Dye Sr. has established new requirements for becoming a volunteer deputy coroner.

Volunteers are great, helping make strong communities stronger, but those who volunteer to handle dead bodies?

Well, that is a breed apart. The fact that St. Clair County has 97 of them, well?

This county has a long, sordid history associated with deputy coroners and the fact that they were allowed to carry badges and conceal guns before Illinois had concealed carry. The late coroner Rick Stone faced allegations that he was trading the ability to carry a concealed weapon for campaign cash, and he even backdated a judge’s order by two years and had the judge’s signature applied to give himself an extra 30 deputies in 1988.

Stone was tried and acquitted, but the system remains indicted as a potential source of corruption.

New coroner Calvin Dye deserves credit for tightening up the system and requiring those who want to volunteer to attend training and those who want to carry a weapon to qualify once a year. He’s also imposing background checks and drug screenings.

But these changes appear to be motivated by 70 of the volunteers not bothering to show up for the annual training. How about making changes that boost transparency and cut the number of potential campaign donors to a reasonable level?

Madison County gets by with 41 of the volunteer deputy coroners, and those volunteers do not get to carry guns. That county’s population is nearly the same as St. Clair County’s.

Let’s drain the local swamp, and see Dye show us the kind of anti-political, straight-arrow behavior we expect from a former Illinois State Police trooper.

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