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Changes to be proposed for crime lab command structure

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BUTTE, Mont. (AP) – Changes will be proposed to reorganize the state crime lab that over the course of a just over a year has had three different chief medical examiners vacate their posts.

Crime Lab Administrator Phil Kinsey told Lee Newspapers of Montana that the proposed changes clarify the command structure and give the state examiner hiring and firing ability.

“When we first started the transition, having bumps at the medical examiner’s office, my bosses wanted to know who was in charge of the medical examiner,” Kinsey said. “I was new on the job. I had been in the lab a long time but had never seen a hierarchical structure regarding the medical examiners.”

State medical examiners would report to crime lab administrators under the new system.

“We really need that cleared up,” Kinsey said. “There was no real clear line of who worked for who.”

The changes should help prevent problems like the ones that led to the high turnover, he said.

Attorney General Tim Fox plans to have the proposals included in a bill at the Legislature.

“We think the system was antiquated,” he said of the use of contractors instead of state employees. “Back in the day, it may have been more difficult given Montana’s rural population and low population to attract lots of doctors that wanted to do medical examinations.”

Missoula Democratic Rep. Kim Dudik is expected to propose the measure.

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