A Comparison of Law Enforcement and Medical Examiner Reports in a Violent-Death Surveillance System
AbstractThis study compared information gathered from medical examiner reports to information gathered from law enforcement reports in characterizing incidents of homicide and homicide followed by suicide that were abstracted for a public health violent-death surveillance system. The authors found that law enforcement reports contribute substantively to the surveillance system and often augment or provide additional information to the medical examiner reports. The utility of law enforcement data, particularly the narrative information, must be balanced with the time needed to gather the law enforcement reports and funding limitations. As violent-death surveillance needs grow, linking police and other law enforcement data with medical examiner and other public health data sources will provide a clearer picture of the circumstances relating to homicide and other violent deaths at the state and national level.