Grand Jury Report Critical Of Operations At The Coroner’s Office

A Shasta County Grand Jury report criticizing the Coroner’s Office follows up on a report two years ago that was mostly ignored by the Board of Supervisors. The Coroner is responsible for determining the circumstances, manner and cause of all violent, sudden or unusual deaths. Grand Jury members are occasionally invited to observe autopsies, but the report says they’re placed in an observation room with no audio input, a limited view through a fixed camera and little to no interaction with an investigator or pathologist. The audio issue was supposed to be fixed after a Grand Jury report 10 years ago. If a cadaver arrives while an autopsy is underway, it must remain in the Coroner van until the autopsy is done because there’s no other way into the refrigerated morgue. That also was supposed to be corrected but still has not been. Apparently no written policies and procedures could be found for day-to-day operations, and there’s no biohazard plan. Following an inspection of the facility in 2001, Grand Jury members said the building was outdated, too small to meet the needs of the department and out of compliance with several state health and workplace safety codes. Staff is often left at crime scenes with no law enforcement protection, and the Coroner facility has a manual gate, which is also unsafe for staff. Grant money has been secured to update the computer system but the Board of Supervisors has not taken action to allow the upgrade to go forward. The Grand Jury again has recommended upgrading or replacing the Coroners facility. The full report can be found at