The East Baton Rouge Parish Coroner’s Office investigated six more homicides in 2012 than in 2011, according to the office’s annual report.
The 2012 report, released Monday, says the office investigated 96 homicides in 2012 compared with 90 in 2012.
The report also noted that the Coroner’s Office investigated 2,824 deaths in 2012, or 435 more deaths than in 2011.
The office investigated 400 more natural deaths and 25 more accidental deaths in 2012 over 2011, the report says. In 2012, there were 2,509 natural deaths and 148 accidental deaths.
The annual report also shows there were 24 infant deaths and 45 suicides in 2012. The number of undetermined cases — one — was unchanged from 2011 to 2012.
In his report, Coroner Dr. Beau Clark also outlined a number of changes he has made in the office since taking over March 26.
Clark said he has increased the number of full-time death investigators from three to seven to reduce scene response time.
Clark also began a regional autopsy program in June, which provides coroner’s services to four nearby parishes — Ascension, Iberville, Pointe Coupee and West Feliciana.
The report says the Coroner’s Office has drafted an investigative policy and procedure manual that will be implemented in 2013.
Clark said in a telephone interview that the office had only a general policy and procedure manual when he took over. He said he and his staffers devised specific manuals, including the investigative policy manual, in order to apply for national accreditation from the National Association of Medical Examiners.
He said he hopes to achieve national accreditation in 2013.
“In doing that, you have to have a death investigation policy and procedure manual,” Clark said. “We’re putting it together so that we can seek this accreditation.”
The Coroner’s Office also helped clear 395 warrants in 2012 in collaboration with parish law enforcement agencies, the report says.
The report says the office’s 2012 expenditures totaled about $1.75 million. The coroner’s budget was originally about $1.5 million, but a $100,000 midyear supplement was approved to buy three new vehicles, install a security system and purchase investigative and pathological supplies.
The report chalks up the difference in budget and expenditures to costs related to the transition from former Coroner Shannon Cooper’s tenure to Clark’s term.
Clark said the office also collected $218,225 in revenue in 2012.
Clark noted that he began enforcing state law that allows his office to seek reimbursement when any person chooses to claim the cremated ashes of a body whose rights have been signed over to the state.
The move saved the office $13,895, Clark said.
Clark outlined a number of building improvements at the Coroner’s Office, such as constructing a private family conference room for mental health assessments, enlarging the investigative squad room and enhancing security functions at the facility.