Gov. Evers grants $20M toward new Milwaukee County ME facility

NOW: Gov. Evers grants $20M toward new Milwaukee County ME facility

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MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- The state will grant an additional $20 million toward a new public safety facility for Milwaukee County, Governor Tony Evers announced Wednesday.

Plans started for the Center for Forensic Science and Protective Medicine in 2016. With new grants, the county is hoping construction can begin next year, with a completion date set for 2025.

The facility would house the county's Office of Emergency Management, along with the Medical Examiner's office.

Milwaukee County's ME office has garnered a lot of recent attention, after the Chief Medical Examiner, Brian Peterson, abruptly left the office last week.

13 days before his retirement, Peterson spoke in a county American Rescue Plan committee meeting about the current ME office's condition.

“People don't appreciate the cockroaches, the limited space, the crumbling infrastructure," Peterson said. "It's frankly unpleasant, I mean when you can walk into our front lobby and smell decomposed body on a lot of days, that's just not good.”

In that meeting, Peterson noted difficulties recruiting Forensic Pathologists, and concern over keeping their national ME accreditation status due to staffing.

He implied the current building is a big part of the problem.

"Since it's already cost us people that would come here otherwise, we don't have any choice but to address this," Peterson said.

The Office of Emergency Management echoes similar issues with their facility inside the Safety Building on State Street.

"The area of the building we occupy is old, converted jail cells. At what point they were built - I have no idea, but there's a lot of functional issues inside the building that we lose staff regularly," said OEM's Deputy Director, Christopher McGowan.

County leaders believe the new facility will be worth the investment, and hopefully not too late.

"A new building will not only provide a huge boost in morale for the staff that is with us. It will encourage future staff to come work with us because we have a new, modern, up to date facility," McGowan said.

Governor Evers called his grant toward the Center for Forensic Science an investment for public safety in Milwaukee County.

You can read his announcement here.

The total price tag for the facility is estimated at $127 million.

CBS 58 contacted Brian Peterson regarding his choice to resign earlier this week - he did not respond.

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