The coroner is charged with the responsibility to conduct an independent investigation into any death which falls under his/her jurisdiction according to the law. Jurisdictional deaths are those which occur within the county of Lancaster and are sudden, unexpected, unattended, or of a violent or suspicious nature. The main purpose for this investigation is the determination and certification of the cause of death and the mode or manner of death.
In addition, the coroner shall determine whether any death resulted from criminal acts or criminal neglect of persons other than the deceased. The coroner shall identify the decedent and assure that next of kin have been notified. The statutory authority of the coroner is found in the county code 16 P.S. 1231-1260.
The Office of the Coroner is divided into four operational areas:
- Forensic Services
- Laboratory Operations
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In 2011, the Lancaster County Coroner’s Office became the second coroner’s office in Pennsylvania to achieve international accreditation through the International Association of Coroners and Medical Examiners. Accreditation provides a means by which Medico-legal Death Investigation agencies may evaluate and improve performance.
The basis of accreditation lies in the formulation of clear professional objectives in the form of standards. Once policy and procedure is in place, which ensure ongoing compliance with professional standards, a team of independent professional evaluators from across the nation is assigned to verify that all applicable standards have been implemented successfully. This process culminates with a decision by the Association Executive Board that the agency is worthy of accreditation. Accreditation is awarded for a period of five years, after which reevaluation is required.
Lancaster County Forensic Center
In November of 2012, the Coroner’s Office moved operations into the newly constructed, Lancaster County Forensic Center, located on Spring Valley Road in East Hempfield Township. This long awaited transition marks the first time that all areas of the coroner’s office are operating under one roof. This state of the art facility will serve the citizens of Lancaster County well for many years to come.