Joslin seeks third, final term as coroner |

Joslin seeks third, final term as coroner

Reid WIlliams

SUMMIT COUNTY – Dave Joslin wants to continue serving Summit County as its coroner.

Joslin, a paramedic with Summit County Ambulance, has been coroner for six years and worked as a deputy coroner for four years prior. If elected in November, term limits set by state statute would make this his final four years.

Joslin goes up against newcomer and fellow Republican Joanne Richardson in the party’s primary race Aug. 13.

As Summit County’s coroner, Joslin, a former Naval intelligence officer, coordinates the examinations of 30 to 50 deaths each year. He also is active with the Colorado Coroners Association, including last year’s lobbying efforts to raise salaries for the position throughout the state. As Summit County Coroner, Joslin earns $12,000 annually. The winner of this year’s election stands to make twice as much or more due to the legislation.

The Summit Daily News asked each coroner candidate six questions. Joslin’s answers follow:

Q: Why would any sane person want to be a coroner?

A: The coroner job is basically a public service job which integrates investigative abilities and a sincere desire to assist people in times of need. My investigative abilities learned in the military and with the Colorado Coroners Association, my extensive practical experience on the job and my “help those in need” attitude suit me for this job.

Q: How would you improve the coroner’s office?

A: The coroner’s office, as with all other offices in the county, can always find areas where improvement can be made. The three areas I would like to improve are: a couple more deputies, better equipment and expanded computer abilities. Of course, all of these have a price tag which the county cannot afford at this time.

Q: Currently, the coroner’s office doesn’t use the mortuary in Breckenridge. What are your feelings about that?

A: The Summit County Coroner’s Office does not use Rocky Mountain Mortuary for any services since there is only one traveling pathologist in Colorado, and he has stated that Breckenridge is just too far to travel to perform autopsies. Also, as a body pickup and storage facility, it is unusable for unexpected deaths because, in law enforcement, there is a term called “chain of custody” (for evidence) which must be kept (as short as possible). Using Rocky Mountain Mortuary would just add one more link to the chain. However, once I release the body to the family, they may make arrangements with any mortuary they may desire.

Q: Who are the mentors, role models or leaders you would try to emulate as coroner and why?

A: The individuals whom I admire most in the coroner business are people I know personally and have worked with in the Colorado Coroners Association. These would be forensic pathologists Ben Galloway, Tom Doberson, Tom Henry and Tom Canfield. These medical professionals bring a knowledge and skill to the investigative process that is invaluable. They also enjoy teaching those of us with whom they work various aspects of forensic pathology as the occasions arise.

Q: What are the three most important responsibilities it would be your duty to perform as coroner?

A: To determine the true cause and manner of death, to have the next of kin of the deceased properly notified and to assist them with answers to all of their questions and concerns, and to work closely with law enforcement and the courts on appropriate cases to assure that any legal concerns are properly executed.

Q: This past year, the Legislature approved a salary increase for county coroners. Given Summit County’s relatively low number of deaths, was this necessary?

A: The salary increase has nothing to with the number of deaths in the county but is based on the county category (a state designation for counties). The state Constitution states that all elected officials will have their minimum salaries set by the Legislature. Coroners are the one group that “fell through the cracks” and were not put on the pay grid.

For many years, the coroners have been paid in an unconstitutional manner. The state Legislature has just rectified a previous error.

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