California's combination of sheriff and coroner appears to skew death-by-police numbers
Very few states combine the job of county sheriff with that of the county coroner, and California is one of them. In fact, most of California's counties have a sheriff-coroner enforcing the law and investigating deaths at the same time.
Critics say there could be a conflict of interest when the sheriff has to investigate a death at the hands of police. And recent research appears to back up that view. Brian Finch led a team at the Dornsife Center at the University of Southern California who went through death statistics... and found the combination of jobs leads to an underreporting of police-caused deaths.
Dr. Finch spends some time laying out the research in a visit to the JX.