The following editorial by Senator Kip Bateman on his bipartisan effort to reform New Jersey’s state medical examiner system, in order to provide compassion and justice for grieving families was published on MyCentralJersey.com and in the Courier News on July 6, 2018:
One of the most heartbreaking tragedies anyone can endure is the sudden loss of a loved one. It is a time of great upheaval and sorrow. Many questions will go unanswered and those who are left behind are often forever changed. The last thing we want surviving family members to worry about is whether or not government officials are doing their job.
Sen. Kip Bateman worked for 8 years on a bipartisan basis to reform NJ’s state medical examiner system, in hopes of providing compassion and justice for surviving loved ones. The landmark reform became law in July 2018. (©iStock)
Families should not have to spend years waiting for answers because of bureaucratic delays, or mistakes made at a State Medical Examiner’s Office. If an autopsy is necessary, it should be performed as soon as possible. If an investigation is required, it should be conducted without delay. These are simple expectations that any ME’s office should be able to meet.
As a longtime municipal prosecutor, a state senator, and a person who loves his family very much, I could not stand by and watch so many grieving families go through the pain of waiting for answers, and the frustration of wading through unnecessary red tape.
It was clear that the current system of investigating untimely and suspicious deaths in New Jersey just wasn’t working. In fact, some have even called it a “national disgrace.” Murders were going unsolved. Surviving loved ones were suffering needlessly. Something had to be done.
That is why, for the past eight years, I have worked on a bipartisan basis with Senator Joe Vitale to reform our state medical examiner system, so that these families don’t have to wait for the closure they so desperately need and deserve.
Our bill, the “Revised State Examiner Medical Act” finally became law on July 3. This law will help families get answers quickly, and ensure that criminal deaths are expediently investigated, so that justice can be served as soon as possible.
In the midst of a budget battle, it’s easy to get lost in party politics, but our landmark reform of the state medical examiner system is a good reminder of the kind of compassionate, meaningful change we can make when we focus on what really matters: helping the people of New Jersey. I hope that we can continue to work together in such a positive way.
Sen. Christopher “Kip” Bateman, R-Branchburg, represents Somerset, Hunterdon, Mercer and Middlesex counties.