A new director at the Midwest Medical Examiner’s Office hopes to continue the office’s growth into the future.
Director Shane Sheets officially started the job Jan. 16. Before that he was the supervisor of investigations for the Midwest Medical Examiner’s Office. Sheets has also served as a death investigator for the office and worked for the Carver County Sheriff’s Office.
“I’m excited to begin this new role,” Sheets said.
The previous director, Gary Alberts, will stick around to help with the transition. As director, Sheets oversees several functions of the office including contracts, budgets, planning and facility operations.
Sheets said his time on the Green Isle City Council and in law enforcement helped him develop the skills he needs to better interact with the public.
Sheets received his bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia. He went on to earn a master’s in business administration from St. Mary’s University in Winona.
He became interested in working for the Medical Examiner’s Office in part because he could help grieving families get closure.
“What struck me as intriguing is that I can help others and family members in death by kind of helping tell the story of how their loved one had passed — to answer the unanswered questions that many people have in society when their loved one dies,” Sheets said.
The office has four forensic pathologists and more 60 investigators in the field. That’s in addition to office staff and investigators in the office, according to Sheets.
“What I’m most excited about, and honestly, is working with an amazing team of people,” he said.
He’s also looking forward to revamping and fine tuning the office’s training program to keep staff up to date on national standards.
Based in Anoka County, the Midwest Medical Examiner’s Office is one of four major medical examiners in the state, along with the Hennepin County. Ramsey County and the Southwest Regional medical examiner’s offices.
The office is responsible for performing death investigations, conducting autopsies and providing education and consultations to affiliated counties, according to its website.
The Midwest Medical Examiner’s Office contracts with approximately 39 counties. Its service area extends west to Big Stone County and north through Pine County to Cook and Beltrami Counties. It also reaches south to Yellow Medicine, Renville and Sibley counties. Five counties in western Wisconsin also contract with the office.
Sheets’ long-term goals are to maintain operational efficiency and continue growing. The office has grown rapidly over the last few years, and Sheets hopes to add more counties to its service area.
“I don’t envision anything except for growth, prosperity and a lot of positive things overall in this new transition,” Sheets said.