‘Inadequate’: Dorchester Co. Coroner details need for new building in Summerville

Dorchester County's coroner says their current building has run its course and they need a new one to meet the demand of a growing county.
Published: Sep. 23, 2022 at 3:38 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 23, 2022 at 4:19 PM EDT
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SUMMERVILLE, S.C. (WCSC) - They’re the people who investigate whenever a death happens in Dorchester County, but the coroner says their current building has run its course and they need a new one to meet the demands of a growing county.

A new 5,000-square-foot building for the Dorchester County Coroner’s Office will be built across the street from Alston-Bailey Elementary School in Summerville.

Coroner Paul Brouthers said their 1,900 square foot headquarters at the judicial complex off Deming Way was built with only one person in mind over 25 years ago.

“It’s inadequate,” Brouthers said about the current building. “It has gotten to the point now that we have to have something else, and the idea behind the new design, the new building, is to build something that will sustain us for at least 50 years, so we’re hoping they’ll be able to do that.”

He said since the facility was built, the office has added a chief deputy coroner, three full-time investigators and an administrative assistant all while investigating around 1,100 cases per year.

Brouthers also said his morgue is in a secure area in the facility’s parking lot and can hold up to eight people.

The new building would cost an estimated $2.1 million and would be paid for via bonds from the Town of Summerville’s Midtown Redevelopment Plan.

The coroner expects in the future the county will mandate all autopsies be done in-house. Right now, the coroner does not perform autopsies.

Brouthers said the new building would let the department hire more investigators, move the morgue inside of the building and work more efficiently than they do now.

The coroner said he expects to see the designs for the building by the end of the year and to move into the building in 2024.