'Immediate upgrade' needed at coroner's bureau

Santa Barbara County grand jury released report Friday

POSTED: 04:42 PM PDT Jun 22, 2013    UPDATED: 09:30 PM PDT Jun 22, 2013 
SANTA BARBARA COUNTY, Calif. -

The sheriff-coroner's bureau needs an "immediate upgrade" according to two Santa Barbara County grand jury reports released Friday.

The jury found the coroner's bureau is in compliance with the law, but "the bureau's physical facility is in immediate need of significant improvements and merits a long-range strategic plan by the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors," the report stated.

Members of the grand jury toured the facility multiple times, interviewed the forensic pathologist and staff of the bureau.

In the background of the report, the jury states that there is no record of a building permit on file for the facility that was built in the late 1980s, and that indicates it never went through the review and approval process.

"The building was constructed by inmate labor from the county jail, at a cost of less than $100,000," the report stated.

Jury members also found out medical and infectious waste from the coroner's facility is being discharged into the sanitary system during autopsies without the proper permit. The Goleta Sanitary District failed to reissue an Industrial Wastewater Permit even though the bureau submitted the correct paperwork.

The jury concluded the facility has "serious inadequacies which may jeopardize the health and safety of the staff and public."

The grand jury also released a report on law enforcement and detention facilities on Friday.

Jury members visited the nine Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office facilities, three probation facilities and three municipal police departments.

Members said the Santa Barbara County main jail is "severely overcrowded and understaffed."

Click here for the full Grand Jury Coroner's Bureau report.

Click here for the full Law Enforcement & Detention Facilities report.