Council approves compensation for new Crime Lab recruits

The Arkansas Legislative Council on Friday approved a State Crime Laboratory request to hire a new chief forensic pathologist with a salary of $ 350,000 per year and an associate forensic pathologist with a salary of $ 260,000.

The board also approved the division’s request to increase the salaries of the division’s five associate forensic pathologists by 15% or 30% based on their current qualifications or certifications. Their salaries now range from $ 231,235 to $ 295,201.

The requests from the Department of Public Safety were forwarded to the Legislative Council’s personnel subcommittee on Wednesday and to the full council on Friday.

Chief medical examiner Theodore Brown’s salary of $ 350,000 will be the highest in the executive branch of state government, according to the Arkansas Transparency website.

The salary of Secretary of State for Social Services, Cindy Gillespie, is $ 287,042. The salary of the Secretary of Health, Jose Romero, is $ 273,779 and the Secretary of Education, Johnny Key, is $ 239,361.

Director Kermit Channell of the Crime Lab asked Public Safety Secretary Jami Cook in a letter dated June 7 for permission to offer the salary to Brown, whom Channell described as an exceptionally qualified candidate, and to ask approval of the personnel subcommittee for this rate of pay. .

Brown, who is board certified in anatomical, clinical and forensic medicine, is an assistant medical examiner for several counties in western and northern Michigan and northern Indiana, Cook wrote in a letter dated June 7 to to the Director of State Personnel, Kay Barnhill.

Brown is the medical director of the Department of Pathology and director of the Forensic Pathology Fellowship program at the Homer Stryker MD School of Medicine at Western Michigan University, Cook said in his letter.

“This skill set is what will be needed for the forensic scholarship program with UAMS to be successful,” she wrote in her letter to Barnhill.

Charles Kokes, who is an assistant medical examiner, served as the interim chief medical examiner as state officials conducted a nationwide search to fill the position, Channell said in an interview.

Hiring Brown is “a game changer” and brings the experience required to develop a forensic scholarship program, he said in an interview on Friday.

“He brings a lot of energy to my staff that we really need,” Channell said.

In his letter to Cook, Channell requested permission to offer a salary of $ 260,000 to Christy Cunningham, whom Channell described as an exceptionally qualified candidate for an Associate Forensic Pathologist position, and to seek the approval of the Deputy personnel committee for this rate of pay.

Cunningham is certified by the American Board of Pathology as a forensic pathologist and pathologist and has worked in forensic pathology for five years, Cook said in his letter to Barnhill. She served as Assistant Coroner in the St. Tammany Parish Coroner’s Office in Louisiana.

“The requested rate of pay will place her below current pathologists with similar certifications,” she said. “The position for which she is hired was created on June 16, 2019 and has never been filled.”

Brown and Cunningham had accepted the offers subject to committee approval of their salaries, said Bill Sadler, spokesperson for the State Department of Public Safety.

“Dr Brown has commitments at his current job site and will not be available to start working at the Arkansas Crime Laboratory until the end of the summer,” he said.

Cunningham could start working soon, Sadler said.

The board approved the following salary increases for the five current Crime Lab forensic scientists on Friday:

• Charles Kokes from $ 227,078 to $ 295,201, an increase of 30%.

• Stephen Erickson from $ 224,205 to $ 291,466, an increase of 30%.

• Jennifer Forsyth from $ 209,609 to $ 272,492, an increase of 30%.

• Frank Peretti from $ 212,781 to $ 244,698, an increase of 15%.

• Adam Craig from $ 201,074 to $ 231,235, an increase of 15%.

About Hector Hedgepeth

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