Assembly Public Safety Committee approves Fox bill to protect coroners’ rights

Steve Fox

Steve Fox

SACRAMENTO – Assemblymember Steve Fox on Wednesday announced that the Assembly Public Safety Committee approved Assembly Bill 398 to amend the Peace Officers’ Procedural Bill of Rights (PBOR) to include coroners, deputy coroners and coroner investigators.

Originally enacted into law in 1977, the Peace Officers’ PBOR provides a framework for fair treatment of employees who come under investigation for actions taken in the line of duty.

“The existing law left out a small number of coroners in the state,” Fox explained.  “AB 398 is a way to realize the true intent of the Peace Officers Procedural Bill of Rights and to fix a small gap in an otherwise well-intended and fair law. We must support all our officers.”

When peace officers are investigated for incidents that occurred while they were performing law enforcement duties, the PBOR protects them from harsh interrogation tactics, illegal searches, and punitive actions such as denials of promotion, demotion, or detrimental entries in a peace officer’s personnel file.

Code Section 3301 of the Government Code defines the “peace officers” who are protected by the PBOR, but currently excludes coroners and deputy coroners.

According to the bill’s sponsor, the Professional Peace Officers Association, the exclusion creates a disparity among coroners because most of the state’s coroner investigators are included in the PBOR due to their status as employees of sheriff’s departments.  Those that are not employees of sheriff’s departments are not automatically covered.

Fox continued, saying: “Law enforcement officers, whether they have to use guns or scalpels on the job, should not have to worry about the life-and-death decisions that they must make every day as they serve us.  I am grateful to my fellow Assembly Members for supporting this effort to provide equal protection for all peace officers in California.”

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(Information via press release from Assemblymember Steve Fox of California’s 36th Assembly District.)