Investigator to be county’s first medical examiner

Forensic expert hired to fill position as Ozaukee moves from elected coroner to appointed ME
Ozaukee Press staff

The County Board last week approved hiring a Milwaukee County forensic investigator to be the county’s first medical examiner.

County Administrator Jason Dzwinel recommended hiring Luke Warnke, a forensic investigator since 2013 in the Milwaukee County’s Medical Examiner’s Office.

In his recommendation, Dzwinel noted Warnke also had 10 years experience as a police officer with the Milwaukee Police Department and had conducted many death investigations.

“The interview team agreed that Luke could hit the ground running and professionalize the Ozaukee County Medical Examiner’s Office,” Dzwinel said.

“In addition, his background check confirmed strong relationships with the forensic pathologists who currently work for or have retired from the Milwaukee County Medical Examiner’s Office, which could potentially open up the possibility of contracting directly with a pathologist to perform autopsies at the morgue in our Justice Center.”

Warnke’s appointment makes him the county’s first appointed medical examiner, replacing the elected coroner position.

The County Board voted last spring to switch from an elected coroner to an appointed medical examiner.

The change allows the county to establish qualifications for the position, something that can’t be done for an elected position. The only requirement for an elected coroner is that the candidate be 18 years old and a county resident.

Neither a coroner or a medical examiner are required to be a medical doctor.

Warnke assumes his duties on Jan. 2.

Supervisors increased the office’s budget $50,000 for 2023 to facilitate the transition to a medical examiner office.

“This hire will fit within the budget established and increase the professionalism of the office as was envisioned,” Dzwinel said.   

The position’s duties include responding to death scenes that meet certain criteria, initiating investigations when appropriate, documenting the circumstances of death, determining the cause and manner of death and whether additional investigation or an autopsy is warranted.

It also includes interacting with the deceased person’s family and law enforcement, attorneys, physicians and signs death certificates and cremation permits.

The county contracts with the Milwaukee  County Medical Examiner’s Office to conduct autopsies.



Click Here to Send a Letter to the Editor

Ozaukee Press

Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

125 E. Main St.
Port Washington, WI 53074
(262) 284-3494


User login