EBR coroner asking for big increase in funding as part of city budget

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Pete Lentini sat at his desk during his shift Wednesday as an investigator for the East Baton Rouge Parish Coroner's office.

"It can be go, go, go or be what we call a quiet night," said Lentini.

Lentini is one of seven fulltime investigators with the coroner's office but says he often works alone on his shift for a department that rolls out on 60 to 70 scene responses a month.

"I'm by myself so I'm doing all the little steps as far as getting them from where they are bringing them back here and logging them in and writing a report, that can make for one long night," added Lentini.

In order to keep up with what he says is an increased work load, East Baton Rouge Parish Coroner Dr. Beau Clark would like to hire more investigators and additional fulltime employees in his office. Those changes would be part of a budget increase of more than $900,000 from last year.

"We have the largest parish in the state of Louisiana therefore we're going to have most responses necessary from a coroner's office to work that volume based on the numbers of citizens we have and we want to do it very well," said Clark.

At the Baton Rouge Metro council meeting Wednesday, public feedback was heard on Mayor Kip Holden's amended budget which includes a proposed $140,000 increase in the coroner's budget. Councilman John Delgado says that is more than appropriate.

"The budget of the coroner's office has increased a third over the last two years we're talking about no other department within city parish has had that kind of increase and they're coming back asking for more money now, I just think it's way too much," said Delgado.

Lentini says he will continue doing his job the best way he can even if it means facing daily challenges along the way.

"I'll be driving back from a scene and have to go to another one and I mean you have to respond as quickly as you can. You can't stop and tell them no hold on it's go time you've got to go," said Lentini.

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