On January 8, 2005 the Coroner's Department merged with the Sheriff's Department. The Sheriff's new title is "Sheriff-Coroner." With this merger, a captain was appointed commander of the Coroner's Division and 33 new employees joined the department. The Coroner's Division has offices in San Bernardino, Apple Valley and Needles.
A few decades ago, before the current facility was built in 1988, autopsies were performed in local area mortuaries and later, at the San Bernardino County Medical Center. The pathologist would take his bag of instruments and perform the autopsy in the mortuary. However, autopsies are not the only thing happening at the Coroner's Division and not everyone who dies has an autopsy performed on him or her.
The Coroner's Division has Deputy Coroner Investigators who are tasked with investigating the cause and manner of death for those who die in San Bernardino County . Not every person who dies requires investigation. If individuals were under medical care, and/or there is a "natural" death determination, they do not come to the coroner's facility, but go directly to the mortuary the family has chosen.
A Deputy Coroner Investigator will be called to the scene of homicides, fatal traffic collisions and any other place where an unexplained death has transpired -- even in the middle of the desert to retrieve bones of the deceased. The investigator will take pictures and examine the body. These investigators make family notification and document the facts of the death.
In addition to three board certified forensic pathologists, our staff includes: an anthropologist, an odontologist, deputy coroner investigators, autopsy assistants, Sheriff's Service Specialists, clerical staff, and an indigent burial specialist. The Sheriff's Coroner Volunteer Unit is also an invaluable addition to the Division.
The deceased and their family members are treated with the utmost care and consideration. The job of the Coroner Division is to take care of the citizens of San Bernardino County at a time when they are at their most vulnerable.
Mission Statement: Our mission is to maintain the highest standard of professionalism and integrity in determining the cause and manner of death, while ensuring decedents and their families are treated with the utmost dignity and respect.
- Unattended deaths. (No physician in attendance or during the continued absence of the attending physician.
- Wherein the deceased has not been attended by a physician in the 20 days prior to death.
- Physician unable to state the cause of death. (Unwillingness does not apply.)
- Known or suspected homicide.
- Known or suspected suicide.
- Involving any criminal action or suspicion of criminal act.
- Related to or following known or suspected self-induced or criminal abortion.
- Associated with a known or alleged rape or crime against nature.
- Following an accident or injury (primary or contributory). Deaths unknown or suspected which resulted in whole or in part from a related accident or injury, either old or recent.
- Drowning, fire, hanging, gunshot, stabbing, cutting, starvation, exposure, acute alcoholism, drug addiction, strangulation or aspiration.
- Accidental poisoning. (Food, chemical, drug, therapeutic agents.)
- Occupational diseases or occupational hazards.
- Known or suspected contagious disease and constituting a public hazard.
- All deaths in operating rooms and all deaths where a patient has not fully recovered from an anesthetic, whether in surgery, recovery room or elsewhere.
- In prison or while under sentence.
- All deaths of unidentified persons.
- Suspected sudden infant death syndrome (crib deaths).
- All deaths of state hospital patients.