GENEVA – Kane County Coroner Rob Russell announced his office has received a $30,000 grant from the the Illinois Violent Death Reporting System and the Statewide Unintentional Drug Overdose Reporting System.
The grant was slotted to be placed in a special fund created by a state statute that the coroner can use for various equipment or programs to run the office.
But Russell moved the full $30,000 to Kane County’s General Fund to help with the cost of the overages caused by homicide and overdose deaths.
“We were one of the counties contacted,” Russell said. “We worked with them and their people actually came to our office and looked through each file for homicide or drug death.”
Kane County had 68 confirmed opiate deaths and eight homicides in 2018, Russell said.
So far this year, there are 39 confirmed opiate deaths, 18 unconfirmed but suspected and 17 confirmed homicides, he said.
The grant is awarded to coroners’ offices that participated in the study by providing death information from the office records.
The research organization and the coroners collaborated and shared resources for the betterment of understanding violent and substance abuse death, in hopes of finding ways to thwart preventable death, according to a news release.
Russell said his office has been experiencing cost overages due to the expense of investigating opioid overdose deaths and violent deaths in the county.
“In recent years, the county and the nation have experienced an explosion of opioid deaths. We have also experienced our share of violent deaths, such as the Aurora shootings,” Russell stated a news release.
“They are in-depth investigations that translate to more resources autopsies, toxicology, personnel hours that are being expended,” Russell stated in the release. "Unfortunately, the taxpayers of the county are left with the bill of investigating these deaths."
“The overages are no one’s fault but they must be dealt with,” Russell stated in the release. “As the custodian of this office, and a Kane County taxpayer, I am more than happy to be part of the solution.”
The Illinois Violent Death Reporting System is supported by the Injury Prevention Research Center and implemented through the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago.
The grant is funded by the Centers for Disease Control, with additional support provided by the Illinois Department of Public Health and an anonymous donor, according to the release.