Coroner hopefuls have police, medical backgrounds

The two candidates for Bartholomew County assessor both have police and scientific knowledge, with subtle distinctions between them.

The race features Republican Clayton Nolting and Democrat Paula Rothrock, who are vying to replace longtime retiring Republican coroner Larry Fisher.

Nolting, a current Columbus Police officer who also has served as deputy coroner for the past five years, said his medical background is specific to death investigations.

The certified medicolegal death investigator holds a Master of Science degree focused in forensic entomology and an associate degree in forensic science and sociology.

“My education and experience in this area are critical to understanding what I’m seeing, both at death scenes and in the autopsy room,” Nolting said.

Rothrock, a nurse and clinical case manager at Columbus Regional Health, holds two medical degrees and is seeking a third. She was a Columbus police officer for 11 years.

Rothrock received an Associate of Science in Nursing degree, followed by a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree — and is pursuing a Master of Science in Nursing degree from Walden University. Rothrock is a certified emergency nurse and forensics nurse examiner.

Both disciplines have taught her to pay attention to detail, evidence preservation and effective communication, Rochrock said.

Rothrock maintains her nurse training provides her with invaluable scientific knowledge regarding injury, disease and death.

“Nursing also gives me empathy and compassion,” she said.

Rothrock said she wants to separate the coroner’s office from law enforcement to provide unbiased death investigations.

Rockrock said another goal is to protect the county from litigation by providing thorough investigations of death scenes, stated

If elected, Rothrock wants to provide critical incident stress debriefings after difficult scenes, in order to protect the mental health of death investigation team members, she said.

Nolting said securing the work of the coroner’s office through establishing written policies and procedures is a top priority, he stated.

A descendant of two former Bartholomew County sheriffs, Nolting said he will also seek the most efficient ways to access forensic services that may include prioritizing the use of forensic testing.

Nolting said his police background will provide him with crucial knowledge in matters of constitutional law, evidence handling and courtroom testimony.

After earning more than 70 percent of the vote during a primary race with Ronald W. Shadley Sr., Nolting became his party’s candidate for coroner last spring.

Rothrock was unopposed on the Democratic primary ballot.

At a glance

Election previews continue Sunday with the seven candidates for Bartholomew County Council at-large race. The three top vote-getters in the general election will be elected.

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Mark Webber is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at or 812-379-5636.