RivCo Supervisors Perez, Jeffries to request evaluation of separating offices of coroner and Sheriff

RIVERSIDE COUNTY — The Riverside County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday will consider a request from Supervisor V. Manuel Perez and Supervisor Kevin Jeffries to evaluate separating the offices of the coroner and sheriff.

The pair recommends that the Board of Supervisors direct the CEO to evaluate potential costs and benefits of a separation of the Offices of the Sheriff from the Coroner and Public Administrator, as well as other options.

Supervisors to Study Separating Coroner, Sheriff

Riverside County Sheriff Chad Bianco

Sheriff Chad Bianco told Uken Report on Monday 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.

In recent discussions and public comment, a recurring theme has been the potential conflict of interest (or even the perception of a conflict of interest) involved in having the Coroner and the Sheriff as one entity Perez and Jeffries wrote in their report.

The Sheriff and the Coroner’s Offices had been separated in Riverside County for most of the County’s history. In December 1995, however, the Board adopted a recommendation from the Riverside County Commission on Reorganization and Structure to consolidate the office of County Coroner-Public Administrator under the office of County Sheriff. The ordinance was adopted in 1996, with the integration occurring January 1st, 1999.

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.

If passed, this item would ask the County Executive Office to evaluate options for separating the
Office of the Sheriff and Coroner/Public Administrator again. This report would include potential costs, savings, legal issues, organizational structure, and labor considerations, and be returned to the Board within 90 days.

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 the staff report.

The board meets at 9:30 a.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 5 in the County Administrative Center, 4080 Lemon St., First Floor, Board Chambers in Riverside.


Image Sources

  • Sheriff Chad Bianco: Sheriff Chad Bianco
  • Sheriff and Coroner Administration: RivCo