Union Parish recently found itself in need of a coroner. The Coroner of a parish is a judicial officer who must grant autopsy orders, exhumation orders, order investigations of deaths, order inquests and issue certificates of fact of death, among many other innumerable duties. Union Parish found the perfect candidate in Renee Smith.
Smith has lived in Union Parish for 10 years and fortunately qualified for a special election and will serve the citizens of Union Parish, beginning with a four-year term.
Smith’s credentials are many, and more than qualify her to serve the needs of Union Parish. She is a 34-year veteran of the Ouachita Parish Sherriff ’s Office.
During those years of service, Smith worked most of that time as an investigator working, ‘crimes against persons.’ “Early in my career there,” said Smith, “I specialized in investigations of child abuse which later evolved into starting a Domestic Violence Unit.”
That Domestic Violence Unit collaborated closely with the Family Justice Center which offers specialized services to the many victims of domestic violence. “My unit’s function was of course to gather evidence and arrest the primary aggressor in these cases. I was proudly involved with The Family Justice Center until my retirement in March of 2018,” stated Smith.
Smith also served as Coordinator for the OPSO Crime Scene Unit. The unit consisted of approximately 25 deputies from various departments within the Sherriff ’s Office. Smith had to oversee that these deputies had expertise and capabilities to perform specialized duties at violent crime scenes. These crime scenes consisted mostly of homicides and any crime or scene in which there was a suspicious or violent death. Smith’s unit worked closely with and assisted all surrounding parishes, in cluding the Louisiana State Police.
Smith also worked closely with surrounding parish coroners as any death includes investigations by the coroner of the parish where the death occurred. “It is incumbent upon the coroner to determine the manner and cause of death,” said Smith, “and I have worked closely with the Ouachita Parish Coroner’s Office and the coroners of surrounding parishes.”
Smith will serve as Union Parish coroner for four years. She will have three deputy coroner investigators to assist with her duties. “I have been a public servant for 40 years,” said Smith, “and this community will undoubtedly be faced with a crisis like never before in the weeks and months ahead. I hope to serve Union Parish with dedication, compassion and professionalism because after all, it is my home too.”