RUTHERFORD COUNTY, TN - A proposed forensics center will not be built in Rutherford County. Commissioner Craig Harris told WGNS that funding fell through… Votes to move forward with the construction of a forensics center without state funding were voted down by commissioners on Thursday night. However, Harris said the county will likely go back to the state to make a modified request for funding.
The original idea of a forensic center was proposed by former County Mayor Bill Ketron and then revived by current Mayor Joe Carr. One reason the idea was sparked to open a forensics center, involved the fact that those who die from suicide, an accident or a murder are sent to Nashville for an autopsy, which is costly. Those continued costs in a growing county were one of the motivating factors fueling the idea forward.
As the county grows, so do the number of deaths. Some of the contributing factors to the increased number of deaths include drug overdoses and suicides. According to the commissioner, the majority of the opioid overdose deaths in the county involve white males between the ages of 45 and 50. He also said that 80 to 85% of those deaths are blamed on fentanyl. There has also been a rise in the suicide rate, as a result of the recent COVID Pandemic… Both overdose deaths and suicide deaths are investigated by a medical examiner, a job that again - is currently outsourced to Nashville.
The forensics’ center that was proposed would have included a county morgue and medical examiner’s office that would service not only Rutherford County, but other nearby counties for a fee. Harris told us there would also be an ambulance station at the center. Some of the funds generated by other communities using the center would help offset costs. Additional fees generated by education grants could also help fund the center, if the county partnered with MTSU and Meharry Medical College.
While commissioners did not approve the forensics center without state funding, it will likely be proposed again with a renewed effort to get funding approved by the state. In 2021, the proposed pricetag to build a forensics center stood at $50-million. That price would likely rise as prices have increased in recent years.