Office of Chief Medical Examiner of the City of New York

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Seal of the OCME.
Forensic Biology Laboratory

The Office of Chief Medical Examiner of the City of New York (OCME) investigates cases of persons who die within New York City from criminal violence; by casualty or by suicide; suddenly, when in apparent good health; when unattended by a physician; in a correctional facility; or in any suspicious or unusual manner. The OCME also investigates when an application is made pursuant to law for a permit to cremate the body of a deceased person.

The office was established on January 1, 1918 pursuant to a 1915 Act of the New York State Legislature. Dr. Patrick J. Riordan ran the department from January 1 to February 1 when Dr. Charles Norris became the first official Chief Medical Examiner of New York City.[1]

The OCME provides the citizens of New York City essential services directly by identifying the manner and cause of death in specified cases as well as providing state of the art forensic DNA analysis through the OCME Forensic Biology Laboratory.

These services include on-site investigation into manner and cause of death; identification of remains; performing autopsies; performing DNA testing related to identification of remains; examination of homicide, sexual assault, and other crime evidence collected by the Police Department for DNA extraction and typing; and responding to disasters that involve fatalities as part of a multidisciplinary team of city agencies.


  • January 1, 1918: The OCME starts up on the second floor of Bellevue hospital. Dr. Patrick J. Riordan becomes the temporary Chief Medical Examiner (CME).
  • February 1, 1918: Dr. Charles Norris becomes the first official CME.
  • September 11, 1935: Norris dies of heart failure after nearly 18 years as the CME.
  • September 18, 1935: Dr. Thomas Gonzales is appointed acting CME.
  • July 21, 1937: Gonzales is sworn in to be the official CME.
  • May 1, 1954: After 36 years at the OCME, Gonzales steps down.
  • 1989: Appointment of Dr Charles S. Hirsch [2]
  • 2013: Resignation of Dr Charles S. Hirsch because of age[3]
  • 2013: Appointment of Dr Barbara Sampson as acting Chief Medical Examiner

Unified Victim Identification System[edit]

The OCME, in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks on New York City and the crash of American Airlines Flight 587, developed the Unified Victim Identification System (UVIS). An Internet-enabled database system, it is intended to handle critical fatality management functions made necessary by a major disaster. It also has functionality to enable the OCME to respond to an influenza pandemic.[4]


  1. ^ Evans, Colin. "Blood on the table; the greatest cases of New York City's Office of the Chief Medical Examiner". The Berkley Publishing Group, 2008.
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^ City of New York Office of Chief Medical Examiner Pandemic Influenza Surge Plan To Manage In-Hospital Deaths Planning Tool

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 40°44′28.75″N 73°58′29.75″W / 40.7413194°N 73.9749306°W / 40.7413194; -73.9749306