HISTORY

History of the Colorado Coroners Association

1987 - 1988
The first recorded meeting of the Colorado Coroners Association was held on July 17, 1987 although prior to that meeting a group of coroners had been getting together on a regular basis to exchange ideas and talk about the job. During 1987 work was begun on preparing By-Laws and Articles of Incorporation. The first By-Laws and Articles of Incorporation were adopted on January 30, 1988. The Board of Directors agreed that the primary mission of the association would be the affordable, quality education for Colorado Coroners. Meetings were held bi-monthly and concentrated on the formation of the Association, although each meeting had a guest speaker. 
80% of the time was spent on administrative matters.
20% of the time on education.

1989
In January of 1989 a legislative bill regarding coroner’s salaries was sponsored by Representative Sam Williams and Senator Bonnie Allison. The bill passed successfully through the State Legislature and was signed by the Governor it changed a coroner’s salary from being “allowed up to twenty five dollars per investigation” to a salary that would be set by the Commissioners of each County. In June of 1989 the first annual “June Conference” death investigation training was held in Glenwood Springs. Topics at the conference included: gunshot wounds; toxicology; statutory responsibilities; and mass disasters.
25% of time spent on legislation.
65% of time spent on education.
10% of time spent on administrative matters.


1990
The Association began working on a “Certified Death Investigator” process, where coroners and their deputies could go through a certification process that included documentation of cases investigated, autopsies observed and educational programs attended. The second annual June Conference was held in Frisco. Topics at the conference included: forensic odontology; forensic anthropology; time of death determination and photography.
75% of time spent on education
20% of time spent on certification
5% of time spent on administrative matters


1991
The Association Board of Directors continued to meet quarterly for administrative matters. The third annual June Conference was again held in Glenwood Springs. Topics included gunshot wounds, asphyxia deaths, deaths in custody, and a presentation about the crash of United Fight 585 in Widefield with 25 deaths.
75% of time spent on education
20% of time spent on certification
5% of time spent on administrative matters


1992
The Association Board of Directors continued to meet quarterly for administrative matters. The fourth annual June Conference was held in Colorado Springs. Topics included scene investigation, toxicology, insect activity, time of death and gunshot wounds.
80% of time spent on education
15% of time spent on certification
5% of time spent on administrative matters


1993
The Association Board of Directors continued to meet quarterly for administrative matters. The fifth annual June Conference was held in Colorado Springs. Topics included recovery of skeletal remains, solving problems in rural counties, death certificates, disaster resources, the psychological autopsy, and sudden deaths in children.
80% of time spent on education
10% of time spent on certification
10% of time spent on administrative matters


1994
The Association held the first “New Coroner Class” for newly elected coroners. The 2 day class covered the statutory responsibilities of the coroner, signing death certificates, preparing case files and resources available. The Association Board of Directors continued to meet quarterly for administrative matters. The sixth annual June Conference was held in Colorado Springs. Topics included advanced scene investigation, working with the Colorado Bureau of Investigation, aircraft accidents and working with Federal Agencies.
85% of time spent on education
5% of time spent on certification
10% of time spent on administrative matters.


1995
The Association Board of Directors continued to meet quarterly for administrative matters. In 1995 the Association hired Lobbyist Peg Ackerman to track pertinent bills and to help support the needs of coroners. The seventh annual June Conference was held in Granby. Topics included time of death determination; how to use maggots in death investigation; scene investigation; and case presentations. 
85% of time spent on education
5% of time spent on certification
10% of time spent on administrative matters.


1996
The Association Board of Directors continued to meet quarterly for administrative matters. The eighth annual June Conference was held in Glenwood Springs. Topics included: working with law enforcement; recovery of skeletal remains; working with the State Archeologist on historic remains; asphyxial deaths; suicide investigation; gunshot wounds; deaths in children and case presentations.
85% of time spent on education
5% of time spent on certification, 10% of time spent on administrative matters.


1997
The Association Board of Directors continued to meet quarterly for administrative matters. The ninth annual June Conference was held in Colorado Springs in conjunction with the annual conference of the International Association of Coroners and Medical Examiners. This five day conference included speakers from across the nation: Dr. Jeffrey Jentzen spoke about the Jeffrey Dalmer Murders; FBI agent Mark Holstlaw spoke about domestic terrorism; FBI Agent Ronald Walker spoke about criminal profiling; in addition to animal attacks; pattern injuries; forensic aspects of burns; investigation of work related deaths; environmental deaths; stress management; air bag deaths in children and case presentations. The Association offered scholarships to coroners and their deputies who did not have money in their budgets for education.
85% of time spent on education
5% of time spent on certification
10% of time spent on administrative matters.


1998
The Association Board of Directors continued to meet quarterly for administrative matters. The second “New Coroner Class” was held for newly elected coroners. The 2 day class covered the statutory responsibilities of the coroner, signing death certificates, preparing case files and resources available. The tenth annual June Conference was held in Glenwood Springs. Topics included: forensic botany; forensic entomology; forensic fingerprinting; time of death determination; scene investigation; deaths in children; motor vehicle deaths; finding and notifying next of kin; mini mass disasters; media relations; Colorado Bureau of Investigation; and guns and gunshot wounds. The Association held the first “Coroner Outreach Class” in Brush, Colorado. This was a two day class open to coroners and law enforcement in that area. Topics included: the role of the coroner; the role of law enforcement; working together to investigation cases; identification of remains; next of kin notification and mock scene investigations. The Association offered scholarships to coroners and their deputies who did not have money in their budgets for education.
85% of time spent on education
5% of time spent on certification
10% of time spent on administrative matters.


1999
The Association Board of Directors continued to meet quarterly for administrative matters. A new committee, the Coroner Assist Team, was formed to help coroners in case of mass disasters. A mass disaster being any case or number of deaths at a coroner needed assistance with. The eleventh annual June Conference was in Frisco. Topics included: infectious diseases; sudden deaths in epilepsy; Coroner Assist Team and disaster preparation; blood spatter interpretation; photography; homicide scene investigation; drug related deaths; suicide investigations; lightning deaths and case presentations. The Association held an Outreach Class in Alamosa. Topics included: the role of the coroner; the role of law enforcement; working together to investigation cases; identification of remains; next of kin notification and mock scene investigations. The Association offered scholarships to coroners and their deputies who did not have money in their budgets for education.
85% of time spent on education
5% of time spent on certification
10% of time spent on administrative matters.


2000
The Association Board of Directors continued to meet quarterly for administrative matters. The twelfth annual June Conference was in Colorado Springs. The Association brought in Dr. Don Reay, a forensic pathologist from Seattle, to speak about his specialty of deaths in custody and Dr. Mary Case, a forensic pathologist from St. Louis, to speak about her specialty of head injuries and the investigation of child deaths; other topics included; working with the Colorado Department of Corrections; American Indian Deaths; Military Deaths; asphyxial deaths, fire deaths and arson investigation; criminal intent – the physician as a defendant and case presentations. The Association held an Outreach Class in LaJunta. Topics included: the role of the coroner; the role of law enforcement; working together to investigation cases; identification of remains; next of kin notification and mock scene investigations. The Association offered scholarships to coroners and their deputies who did not have money in their budgets for education.
85% of time spent on education
5% of time spent on certification
10% of time spent on administrative matters.


2001
The Association Board of Directors continued to meet quarterly for administrative matters. The thirteenth annual June Conference was in Breckenridge. The Association brought in Homer Campbell, DDS, a forensic Odontologist from Albuquerque, to speak about his specialty pattern injuries. Other topics were: forensic toxicology; intramural tunneling and subtle cardiac deaths; the Donor Registry and Donor Alliance; new computer death certificates; law enforcement and coroners working together; DNA; the coroner’s inquest; bones – human or animal; illicit drugs and drug paraphernalia; autoerotic deaths and case presentations. The Association held an Outreach Class in Steamboat Springs. Topics included: the role of the coroner; the role of law enforcement; working together to investigation cases; identification of remains; next of kin notification; working with the Colorado State Patrol and mock scene investigations. The Association offered scholarships to coroners and their deputies who did not have money in their budgets for education.
85% of time spent on education
5% of time spent on certification
10% of time spent on administrative matters.


2002
The Association Board of Directors continued to meet quarterly for administrative matters. Discussion began on drafting legislation to mandate training for coroners. The third “New Coroner Class” was held for newly elected coroners. The 2 day class covered the statutory responsibilities of the coroner, signing death certificates, preparing case files and resources available. The fourteenth annual June Conference was in Golden. The association arranged with the newly formed American Board of Medicolegal Death Investigators (AMBDI) to hold a test for certification. 30 coroners and deputy coroners from Colorado took the test to become a certified death investigator through ABMDI. Topics at the conference were: child abuse: infant and child deaths; ABMDI; mass disasters, mimickers in forensic pathology; post mortem brain tissue, a window into schizophrenia; complications of oriental medicine; infectious diseases, what medical records are really saying; the press and politics of a high profile case, and campaigning for election; and case presentations. The Association offered scholarships to coroners and their deputies who did not have money in their budgets for education.
75% of time spent on education
5% of time spent on certification
20% of time spent on administrative matters.


2003
The Association Board of Directors continued to meet quarterly for administrative matters. The Association lobbied for a change to the Colorado State Constitution that would establish a “Coroners Standards and Training Board (C.S.T.B.)”. The matter was placed on the statewide ballot and passed by a wide margin. CRS § 30-10-601.6 went into effect on August 6, 2003. The C.S.T.B. provides training for new coroners and monitors the continuing education of existing coroners. The fifteenth annual conference was held in Glenwood Springs, topics were: bones – human or animal; discovery of Indian Remains; asphyxial deaths in custody, drowning and environmental deaths; is it evidence?; sex, drugs and coroner’s records, consumer product safety reporting; pattern injuries, the pharmacology of alcohol related deaths and case presentations. The Association offered scholarships to coroners and their deputies who did not have money in their budgets for education.
60% of time spent on education
5% of time spent on certification
35% of time spent on administrative matters.


2004
The Association Board of Directors continued to meet quarterly for administrative matters. The sixteenth annual June Conference was held in Colorado Springs. Topics were: tasers; facts and shocks; why do an autopsy when you know the cause the death?; pathology of the cardiac conduction system and the impact of lifestyles on forensic pathology; FBI and DNA; the do’s and don’ts of homicide investigations; pattern injuries; airplane crashes; time of death determination; wire and ink, stop and think; disaster information and preparation and case presentations. The Association held an Outreach Class in Alamosa. Topics included: the role of the coroner; the role of law enforcement; working together to investigation cases; identification of remains; next of kin notification and mock scene investigations. The Association offered scholarships to coroners and their deputies who did not have money in their budgets for education.
85% of time spent on education
5% of time spent on certification
10% of time spent on administrative matters.


2005
The Association Board of Directors continued to meet quarterly for administrative matters. The seventeenth annual June Conference was held in Glenwood Springs. Topics were: deaths in custody; motor vehicle accidents; public records and media relations; drug related deaths from the investigators perspective, the pathologists perspective and the toxicologists perspective; childhood deaths; skeletal remains, dealing with TB and case presentations. The Association held an Outreach Class in Steamboat Springs. Topics included: the role of the coroner; the role of law enforcement; working together to investigation cases; identification of remains; next of kin notification; working with the Colorado State Patrol and mock scene investigations. The Association offered scholarships to coroners and their deputies who did not have money in their budgets for education.
85% of time spent on education
5% of time spent on certification
10% of time spent on administrative matters.


2006
The Association Board of Directors continued to meet quarterly for administrative matters. The fourth “New Coroner Class” was held for newly elected coroners. The 2 day class covered the statutory responsibilities of the coroner, signing death certificates, preparing case files and resources available. The Association successfully lobbied to be included in the salary grid with other county elected officials. A representative from the Association now has a permanent position on the State Salary Commission. CRS § 30-2-102 sets the salaries of all county elected officials based upon the category of county. The eighteenth annual June Conference was held in Cripple Creek. The topics were: interviewing techniques and working with law enforcement; blood spatter interpretation; the CSI effect in the prosecution of cases; the role of forensic pathologists in veterinary medicine; assigning manner of death and filling out death certificates; forensic odontology; facial reconstruction; mass graves; Colorado Violent Death Reporting System; fire deaths; practical photography and case presentations. The Association held an Outreach Class in Alamosa. Topics included: the role of the coroner; the role of law enforcement; working together to investigation cases; identification of remains; next of kin notification; working with the Colorado State Patrol; working with the Colorado Bureau of Investigation and mock scene investigations. The Association offered scholarships to coroners and their deputies who did not have money in their budgets for education.
80% of time spent on education
5% of time spent on certification
15% of time spent on administrative matters.


2007
The Association Board of Directors continued to meet quarterly for administrative matters. The nineteenth annual June Conference was held in Golden. Topics were: Firearms and gunshot wounds; forensic toxicology; aquatic and environmental deaths; lightning deaths; blunt force injuries and pattern injuries; investigating motor vehicle fatalities, what an autopsy can tell you, and what it can’t; the coroner’s inquest; the Platte Canyon incident, it can happen anywhere, dealing with media attention and case presentations. The Association held two Outreach Classes one in Winter Park and one in Sterling. Topics included: the role of the coroner; the role of law enforcement; working together to investigation cases; identification of remains; next of kin notification; working with the Colorado State Patrol; working with the Colorado Bureau of Investigation and mock scene investigations. The Association offered scholarships to coroners and their deputies who did not have money in their budgets for education.
80% of time spent on education
5% of time spent on certification
15% of time spent on administrative matters.


2008
The Association Board of Directors continued to meet quarterly for administrative matters. The twentieth annual June Conference was held in Cripple Creek. Topics were: Certifying cause and manner of death; childhood deaths – they may not be what you think; don’t be so sure – why we do what we do; testifying in court – what to say and what not to say; unusual cases, a forensic pathologists perspective; mental illnesses – the diagnosis and treatments; understanding paid medication and chronic pain management; the clinical use of tissue grafts; basic scene kits and how to move bodies; contamination of evidence what CBI can do with DNA and what they can’t do; the coroners role in mass disasters and pandemics and case presentations. The Association held two Outreach Classes one in LaJunta and one in Grand Junction. Topics included: the role of the coroner; the role of law enforcement; working together to investigation cases; identification of remains; next of kin notification; working with the Colorado State Patrol; working with the Colorado Bureau of Investigation and mock scene investigations. The Association offered scholarships to coroners and their deputies who did not have money in their budgets for education.
80% of time spent on education
5% of time spent on certification
15% of time spent on administrative matters.


2009
The Association Board of Directors continued to meet quarterly for administrative matters. The twenty-first annual June Conference was held in Colorado Springs. Topics were: Homicide/Officer involved shootings; taking care of your own mental health; Consultation, transfer and reburial of unidentifiable Native American remains; Dealing with different cultures; shaken baby – history, cases and changing thoughts over time; handling a Hazmat scene; handling a mass disaster – the 2003 Station Nightclub Fire (95 deaths) and Egypt Air Flight 900 (217 deaths) presented by Dr. Elizabeth Laposta, forensic pathologist from Rhode Island; evidence collection, interpreting toxicology reports and case presentations. The Association held two Outreach Classes one in Buena Vista and one in Montrose. Topics included: the role of the coroner; the role of law enforcement; working together to investigation cases; identification of remains; next of kin notification; working with the Colorado State Patrol; working with the Colorado Bureau of Investigation and mock scene investigations. The Association offered scholarships to coroners and their deputies who did not have money in their budgets for education.
80% of time spent on education
5% of time spent on certification
15% of time spent on administrative matters.


2010
The Association Board of Directors continued to meet quarterly for administrative matters. The twenty-second annual June Conference was held in Colorado Springs. Topics were: Investigating violent deaths; death scene photography; working with OSHA; investigation pediatric deaths; homicidal drowning; inflicted pediatric head trauma; street drugs – what’s out there, the overuse and over prescribing of pain medications presented by the DEA; fire deaths and case presentations. The Association held one Outreach Class in Loveland. Topics included: the role of the coroner; the role of law enforcement; working together to investigation cases; identification of remains; next of kin notification; working with the Colorado State Patrol; working with the Colorado Bureau of Investigation and mock scene investigations. The Association offered scholarships to coroners and their deputies who did not have money in their budgets for education.
80% of time spent on education
5% of time spent on certification
15% of time spent on administrative matters.


2011
The Association Board of Directors continued to meet quarterly for administrative matters. The Association helped draft and lobbied for the passage of HB 11-1258 (“Concerning Autopsies”), which mainly dealt with which cases need to be autopsied, using National Association of Medical Examiners Standards, and performance of autopsies by forensic pathologists. The twenty-third annual June Conference was held in Blackhawk. Topics were: Swift and deep water drowning; the County Attorney and the District Attorney; the overuse and over prescribing of pain medications presented by the DEA; Colorado State Patrol Victim Assistance; weather related deaths; investigating traffic fatalities; your mental health; skeletal remains; hospice duties and responsibilities; how to properly fill out a death certificate and case presentations. At the request of the CCSTB the Association held two three day Medicolegal Death Investigation classes that all newly elected Coroners had to attend. Topics were: Who’s who on a death scene and what their roles are; scene parameters; scene photography/diagrams; the role of CBI in death investigation; evidence identification and collection; examination of the body and time of death; identification of the deceased; natural deaths; gunshot wounds; environmental deaths; cutting and stabbing deaths; blunt force deaths; asphyxial deaths; drug overdoses/toxicology; investigating suicides; investigating homicides; motor vehicle accidents; Forensic experts and how they can help; notifying next of kin and dealing with cultural differences.


2012
The Association Board of Directors continued to meet quarterly for administrative matters. The twenty-fourth annual June Conference was held in Pueblo. Topics were: Impact of ethics, skill and knowledge in death investigations; statutory authority, 4th amendment and new legislation; CDOT/FARS; CCSTB question and answer; death certificates, NAMUS; thinking outside the box; interviewing techniques; designer drugs and new drug trends; how cases go sideways; motor vehicle vs. pedestrian accidents; what cases need to be autopsied and why (beyond the statutory requirements); working with Donor Alliance; and case presentations. The Association decided to stop the outreach classes and have smaller seminars similar to June Conference. In March of 2012 the first Practical Medicolegal Death Investigation class was held in Loveland. The topics were: Challenges in finding next of kin; evidence; motor vehicle crashes – working together with law enforcement; impact of knowledge, skills, and ethics in a death investigation; scene re-enactments and hands-on investigative techniques; interviewing techniques; what cases need autopsies and why; investigation of environmental deaths; green burials; challenges and learning the legislation; death investigation photography; and the rising use of inhalant abuse and death. In September of 2012 the first Studies in Death Investigation was held in Montrose. Topics were: Rising use of inhalant abuse and death; death investigation from a pathology perspective; death investigative from a rural law enforcement perspective; designer drugs and trends in toxicology; death investigation from the investigator perspective; death investigation from an alternative perspective; death investigation in a mass disaster; death investigation from an urban law enforcement perspective; investigating high profile cases; critical thinking in body removal and transport – hands on safety procedures and techniques. The Association offered scholarships to coroners and their deputies who did not have money in their budgets for education.
80% of time spent on education
5% of time spent on certification
15% of time spent on administrative matters.

 

The future of the Colorado Coroners Association
The Association plans to continue to offer high quality, affordable education to Colorado Coroners which will continue to take up 80% of the Associations time. The Association continues to watch for opportunities to update legislation which is part of the administrative matters that takes 15% of the Associations time. The Association continues to certify death investigators and spends 5% of our time on this.