SAN JOAQUIN COUNTY (CBS13) — After months of scrutiny, San Joaquin County Sheriff Steve Moore is being stripped of his role as county coroner.
The Board of Supervisors voted 5-0 Tuesday to separate the role of coroner from the office of the sheriff.
The big changes in the sheriff's department follow an audit recommending the sheriff's role as coroner be removed and handled by an independent medical examiner.
The audit read in part "the coroner's office must be and appear to be independent of law enforcement..."
Moore pledged support for the change to supervisors who voted for it and noted the audit found no wrongdoing by his department.
"Everyone is doing the best they can," Moore said. "There is no nefarious ideas, no negligence or malice of thought in anything that was done."
The audit found strengths and weaknesses in Moore's department, listing several death investigation weaknesses including lack of investigative staff, limited training and continuing education, and standard operating procedures that are outdated and incomplete.
San Joaquin County Supervisor Tom Patti says his vote to strip the sheriff of coroner duties was not an indictment, but simply an attempt to achieve best practices.
"And if you looked at the big picture of it, in every scope, in every element of what we are offering, there were elements that we could do that much better," Patti said.
The audit was requested after two pathologists, including nationally acclaimed doctor Bennett Omalu, resigned under Moore in December, alleging Moore was interfering with their work. They offered a 100-page report chronicling their experiences.
Community activist Motec Sanchez says he equates the Board of Supervisors decision as a vote of no confidence for Moore.
"What it means for the residents of San Joaquin County is now we can go to sleep at night having a little more confidence in our local government," Sanchez said.
Within 30 days the sheriff and medical examiner office will officially be separated.
A search for a new medical examiner position is now underway.
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