Meet Gary Watts: Richland County Coroner

A member of our community, and my church, Gary Watts and his office were recently recognized with a rare accreditation!

From The State, John Monk:

RICHLAND COUNTY, SC — The Richland County coroner’s office has won national accreditation status from the 700-member International Association of Coroners.

The national accreditation designation means that the Richland office meets the highest possible standards, including being independent, said association president John Fudenberg.

“I came to South Carolina expecting to find the stereotypical smaller coroner’s office in the South, and much to my surprise I was impressed to find out how progressive they are and how well-trained,” said Fudenberg, International Association of Coroners president and a member of the coroners’ team that accredited coroner Gary Watts’ office. Fudenberg is coroner of the 1.19 million population Clark County, Nev., home of Las Vegas.

That accreditation, along with the recent county council approval of $2.5 million for a new coroner’s headquarters building, means that Watts is riding high these days. His office investigates just about any Richland County death that’s not natural, including all child deaths.

To read more from The State, click here .

EDUCATION
 Graduate of the Institute of Police Technology and Management, University of N. Florida in Jacksonville, Florida (included traffic, homicide, investigations, advanced traffic and traffic accident reconstruction)
 Member of the South Carolina Division of the International Association for Identification
 Attended SC Criminal Justice Academy
 D-ABMDI, Nationally Board Certified Death Investigator, through the St. Louis University School of Medicine

PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE
 Coroner of Richland County since January 2001 and involved in over 20,000 death investigations
 Deputy Coroner in Richland County for more than 15 years and involved in over 10,000 death investigations.
 Since 1980 involved in over 32,000 total death investigations
 Former Police Officer
 Former Investigator for Richland County Public Defender’s Office
 Former Emergency Medical Technician

PROFESSIONAL ACTIVITIES AND AWARDS
 Past President, South Carolina Coroner’s Association (Two Terms)
 Chairman, Richland County Child Health and Safety Council Child Fatality Review Committee
 Member SC Mass Fatality Response Team
 Former Chairman, Midlands Safe Kids
 Created nationally recognized C.A.R.E. Team for Richland County residents
 Life Point Dove Award winner for 2006
 Named SC Coroner of the Year for 2004 by State Child Fatality Advisory Committee
 Appointed by Governor Sanford to serve on the SC Domestic Violence Review Team Task Force 2004-2005
 Member Emphasis Area Action Team, SC Strategic Highway Safety Plan
 Member of Homeland Security Counter Terrorism Coordinating Council
 Member of City of Columbia Gang Task Force
 Member SC Coroner’s Association Executive Board since 2002
 Life Points Award – 2007
 Named Coroner of the Year 2008 by SC Coroner’s Association
 Named Hero in the Field by Palmetto Health for significant contributions in reducing infant mortality
 Member Advisory Board of Directors of Life Point, Inc.
 Implemented Medical Examiner system in Richland County
 Cribs for Kids Committee member
 Co-sponsored and produced video Give Your Baby Room to Breathe
 Member SC Children’s Justice Act Task Force
 Second Vice President – IAC&ME – Board Member