MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) — The state will allocate an additional $20 million toward a new public safety facility for Milwaukee County, Gov. Tony Evers announced Wednesday.
Planning for the center for forensic and protective medicine began in 2016. With new grants, the county hopes construction can begin next year, with a 2025 completion date set.
The facility would house the county’s office of emergency management as well as the coroner’s office.
The Milwaukee County ME office has attracted a lot of attention lately after Chief Medical Examiner Brian Peterson abruptly left the office last week.
13 days before his retirement, Peterson spoke at a meeting of the district’s American Rescue Plan Committee on the state of the current ME office.
“People don’t appreciate the roaches, the limited space, the crumbling infrastructure,” Peterson said. “It’s frankly uncomfortable, I mean when you can walk into our front lobby a lot of days and smell decomposing bodies, that’s just not good.”
At that meeting, Peterson noted difficulties in recruiting forensic pathologists and concerns about maintaining their national ME-licensed status due to staff shortages.
He hinted that the current building is a big part of the problem.
“Since it’s already cost us people who would otherwise have come here, we have no choice but to address this,” Peterson said.
The Office of Emergency Management is repeating similar problems with its facility at the State Street Conservation Building.
“The area of the building we are in are old converted prison cells. At what point they were built – I have no idea, but there are many functional issues within the building that we regularly lose staff to,” said OEM Deputy Director Christopher McGowan.
District leaders believe the investment in the new facility is worth it, and hopefully not too late.
“A new building will not only boost the morale of our employees tremendously, it will encourage future employees to come and work with us because we have a new, modern and up-to-date facility,” said McGowan.
Governor Evers called his grant to the Center for Forensic Science an investment in Milwaukee County public safety.
You can read his announcement here.
The total cost of the facility is estimated at $127 million.
CBS 58 contacted Brian Peterson regarding his decision to step down earlier this week — he didn’t respond.