RivCo Supervisors Seek Evaluation of Sheriff & Coroner Office
RIVERSIDE — Without discussion, the Riverside County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously on Tuesday to direct the CEO to evaluate potential costs and benefits of separating the Offices of the Sheriff from the Coroner and Public Administrator, as well as other options.
County administrators are expected to return to the board with a report on those options within 90 days.
Supervisor V. Manuel Perez and Supervisor Kevin Jeffries put forward the idea. Confidence in our law enforcement institutions and the perception of fairness are important goals, but before taking further specific steps, a complete cost/benefit analysis of options should be performed, Perez and Jeffries wrote in a staff report.
The 5-0 vote followed public comments from numerous people in support of the separation. No one spoke against it. Several said having the offices combined is a conflict of interest. Several inmates’ families have filed lawsuits alleging that negligence among jail staff contributed to or was responsible for their loved ones’ deaths.
On Monday before the vote, Sheriff Chad Bianco told Uken Report that while he disagrees with the supervisors, he welcomes the final “product of reason” from the executive office.
“In order for us to go along with anti-law enforcement activist groups, we must completely void ourselves of reason and common sense. We also must completely disregard a history of fraud, abuse, and impropriety that led the Office of Sheriff and Coroner to be combined in the first place.
“Make no mistake, this is nothing but a politically motivated agenda, fueled by defund the police/anti law enforcement activists. Their claims are without merit,” Biano said.
California is one of only three states that does not require the Sheriff and Coroner to be independent of each other. While there is no evidence of any improprieties in Riverside County regarding the operations of the Coroner’s Office under the Sheriff, the optics of a potential conflict of interest can lead to a loss of confidence in our institutions.
The 2017-2018 Riverside County Grand Jury also looked at this issue, and recommended that as an alternative to separation, the Sheriff re-establish “an agreement with acceptable terms, with an adjacent County, to perform autopsies of in-custody deaths.” Such an agreement had previously been in existence but had been allowed to lapse.
- Board of Supervissors: RivCo