We are delighted to share that AB 1608 has passed through both Assembly Committees on Local Government and Public Safety! The bill will now proceed to the Assembly Floor for a full vote and upon this passage, will move on to the State Senate.
In continuing our organizational advocacy to call for increased police transparency, accountability and reform, we voiced our support for AB 1608 (D-Gipson) which would separate the Sheriff from the Coroner’s Office in all 58 counties in California.
We submitted our support and testified at the Assembly Committee on Local Governance earlier this month alongside the Justice for Angelo Quinto! Justice for All! Coalition and many other advocates statewide.
When Angelo Quinto was murdered at the hands of the Antioch Police Department (APD) in December 2020, his family wouldn’t receive his official cause of death till nearly eight months later when the Contra Costa County Coroner publicly declared Angelo’s cause of death as “Excited Delirium.” The Quinto-Collins family called the Contra Costa County Coroner’s Office incessantly for information, to no avail. To make matters worse, Angelo’s family would find out his cause of death alongside the public, forced to process, react and relive the trauma in a public arena.
AB 1608 would mandate that Sheriff and Coroner’s Offices in California be separated.
The Sheriff has three primary duties: keep the peace (e.g., make arrests, respond to calls); attend the courts (e.g., superior court bailiffs); and operate the county jail. All 58 counties in California have a Sheriff’s Department and 48 of those counties also provide for the Sheriff to assume the duties of the Coroner. The Sheriff is a constitutionally elected official. The Coroner, in those counties where the Sheriff doesn’t assume both roles, is responsible for inquiring into and determining the circumstance, manner, and cause of all violent, sudden, or unusual deaths.
Notably, the 10 counties that have separated the Sheriff and Coroner functions – Santa Clara County, Los Angeles County, City and County of San Francisco to name a few – have recognized that the duties involved with both offices hold great responsibility to the public. Given this, separating the offices to ensure clarity of function, division of labor, and easier access for Californians is the leading priority to prevent future families, like the Quinto-Collins family, from receiving the necessary answers around cause of death of their loved ones.
To learn more about how to get involved with our advocacy efforts, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.