Office of Chief Medical Examiner of the City of New York

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Chief Medical Examiner of the City of New York
Seal of the OCME
Jason K. Graham (acting)
since November 30, 2021
Office of Chief Medical Examiner (OCME)
AppointerMayor of New York
PrecursorCoroner of New York City
Inaugural holderCharles Norris

The Office of Chief Medical Examiner of the City of New York (OCME) is a department within the city government that 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.


Forensic Biology Laboratory

The office was established on January 1, 1918, pursuant to a 1915 act of the New York State Legislature that abolished the office of the Coroner of New York City. The Chief Medical Examiner is appointed by the mayor. Dr. Patrick D. Riordan was the last coroner and the first acting medical examiner from January 1 to February 1, 1918, when Dr. Charles Norris was appointed by the mayor as 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.

It was reported that as of May 7, 2021, there were 750 bodies "who died during the pandemic" were still inside refrigerated truck trailers at Brooklyn's 39th Street pier awaiting burial.[2][3]

List of Chief Medical Examiners[edit]

No. Name Starting date of Office Ending date of Office
Patrick D. Riordan (acting) as the last Coroner of New York City.[4] January 1, 1918 February 1918
1 Charles Norris[4] February 1, 1918 1935
2 Thomas A. Gonzales[5] 1935 1954
3 Milton Helpern[6] 1954 1974
4 Dominick DiMaio 1974 1978
5 Michael Baden 1978 1979
6 Elliot M. Gross 1979 1987
7 Beverly J. Leffers (acting) 1987 1989
8 Charles Sidney Hirsch[7] 1989 February 6, 2013
Barbara Sampson (acting)[8] February 6, 2013 December 9, 2014
9 Barbara Sampson[8] December 10, 2014 November 30, 2021
Jason K. Graham (acting)[9] November 30, 2021 Incumbent
A vehicle of the Office of Chief Medical Examiner

Unified Victim Identification System[edit]

In the aftermath of the numerous deaths resulting from the September 11th attacks on New York City and the crash of American Airlines Flight 587, the OCME developed the Unified Victim Identification System (UVIS). An Internet-enabled database system, it is intended to handle critical fatality management functions in the case of a major disaster with numerous deaths. It also has functionality to enable the OCME to respond to an influenza pandemic.[10]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Evans, Colin. Blood on the Table; The Greatest Cases of New York City's Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, New York: The Berkley Publishing Group, 2008.
  2. ^ "NYC still storing COVID-19 victims in refrigerated trucks". CBS 42. 2021-05-07. Retrieved 2021-05-08.
  3. ^ Kravitz, Derek (2021-05-06). "Bodies of Hundreds of New York COVID Victims Still in Trucks on Brooklyn Pier". THE CITY. Retrieved 2021-05-08.
  4. ^ a b "Norris Succeeds Riordan" (PDF). New York Times. February 1, 1918.
  5. ^ "New Chief Medical Examiner Is Sworn In". New York Times. July 22, 1937.
  6. ^ "Milton Helpern, Ex-Chief Medical Examiner, 75, Dies. With New York Office for 42 Years. Called a Sherlock Holmes". New York Times. April 23, 1977.
  7. ^ "Charles S. Hirsch, New York's Chief Medical Examiner on 9/11, Dies at 79". New York Times. 10 April 2016. Retrieved 10 April 2016.
  8. ^ a b "Mayor de Blasio Appoints Dr. Barbara Sampson as Chief Medical Examiner | City of New York". 2014-12-10. Retrieved 2016-04-16.
  9. ^ "NYC Office of Chief Medical Examiner Announces Departure of Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Barbara Sampson | City of New York". 2021-11-30. Retrieved 2021-12-30.
  10. ^ 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′29″N 73°58′30″W / 40.74139°N 73.97500°W / 40.74139; -73.97500