Dr. Odey C. Ukpo has beem sworn in as the interim Chief Medical Examiner-Coroner of Los Angeles County, the first Black person to serve in that capacity since the office was established in 1850, authorities said.

Ukpo, 42, who was appointed to the position by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, took the oath of office during a virtual ceremony Friday morning, according to the coroner’s office.

He will lead a workforce of 260 staff at the Los Angeles County Department of Chief Medical Examiner-Coroner, which handles about 12,500 cases a year.

“Dr. Ukpo joined the department in 2014 and served as a Senior Deputy Medical Examiner before being named Medical Director in June 2022,” the coroner’s office said in a statement.

Ukpo received a bachelor’s degree in science from Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, as well as a master’s degree in science from the Mayo Clinic Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences in Rochester, Minnesota.

He went on to earn his medical degree from the Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine in 2008, and completed his residency at Washington University in St. Louis in 2013. He finished his Forensic Pathology Fellowship at the Office of the Medical Examiner in Albuquerque, New Mexico in 2014.

Ukpo succeeds Dr. Jonathan R. Lucas, who led the department for five years and announced his intent to leave the coroner’s office in September.

The Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner investigates and determines the circumstances, manner and cause of all violent, sudden or unusual deaths occurring within Los Angeles County, including the city of Los Angeles, 87 other municipalities and its unincorporated areas.

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