Riverside Coroner to Remain Part of Sheriff’s Department

Riverside County supervisors voted Tuesday to keep the county sheriff and coroner under the same roof, heeding recommendations from the County Executive’s Office.

There were three options before the board: creation of a standalone coroner’s office, the establishment of a chief medical examiner’s position, or the status quo. By a unanimous vote, the board opted to maintain the consolidated system, with improvements.  

The board did vote to establish a "Family Liaison Program” to address families’ needs following an in-custody death. They are also leaning toward a plan that would utilize coroner services in San Diego and San Bernardino after in-custody fatalities to prevent conflicts of interest.

Community leaders, including former county supervisor Bob Buster, argued that separation of the offices is needed to restore public trust. The EO acknowledged problems with the current system, including lengthy turnaround time for post-mortems and death reports, particularly for in-custody deaths. However, the EO said it would cost too much money and cause unnecessary complications to separate the coroner and sheriff.

Less than a dozen California counties have a separate sheriff and coroner. A 2023 study found that counties with the consolidated sheriff-coroner model were more likely to underreport officer-involved homicides in official databases.