These are the Summaries, Findings, Commendations, Recommendations, and Requests for Responses only. All of the full Reports including this one can be found on the Shasta County Grand Jury's website here.
2020 - 2021
Shasta County Grand Jury
-Carr Fire Incident - "When Rank Has its Privileges" or "Adding Fuel to the Fire"
-Summary Audit & Finance Committee Report
-Anderson Union High School District - "Teaching Current and Future Leaders"
-"Who is Helping the Helpers?" - SHASCOM 9-1-1 Report
-"Dead Men Tell No Tales" - Shasta County Coroner's Office Report
Carr Fire Incident
When Rank Has its Privileges or Adding Fuel to the Fire
The 2020-2021 Shasta County Grand Jury received a complaint against a sitting member of the Shasta County Board of Supervisors. The scope of the complaint and the fact that the subject of the complaint was an elected official were significant. The Grand Jury formed an ad hoc committee to complete a thorough and detailed investigation into the complaint. Shasta County Counsel provides routine legal analysis to the Grand Jury. As Shasta County Counsel also provides legal representation to the Board of Supervisors, creating a conflict of interest, the Grand Jury was referred to the Shasta County District Attorney for legal assistance. The Grand Jury sought legal advice from the District Attorney’s Office throughout the investigation. Based on the information provided to this grand jury it was determined that sufficient evidence existed to confirm that the complainant’s concerns were warranted.
F1. During the 2018 Carr fire evacuations the Supervisor of District 2 of Shasta County used the authority of his office to enter the evacuated area and fuel his personal home generator multiple times for personal gain.
F2. Review by the SCGJ finds that this activity is prohibited by California State Assembly Bill No. 1234.
R1. The Shasta County Board of Supervisors will place on their agenda by October 15, 2021, a motion to publicly censure the Supervisor of District 2 for actions taken during the 2018 Carr Fire.
R2. The Shasta County Board of Supervisors by October 15, 2021, will offer the Supervisor of District 2 an opportunity to publicly apologize for his actions.
REQUEST FOR RESPONSES
Shasta County Board of Supervisors:
Summary Audit & Finance Committee Report
Penal Code §925 requires the Grand Jury (GJ) to annually investigate and report on the operations, accounts, and records of the county. Also, Government Code §25250 requires the Shasta County Board of Supervisors to conduct an annual audit of all county accounts by an independent outside contract auditor pursuant to Government Code §31000. The 2020-2021 Shasta County Grand Jury has reviewed the County’s Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR) for fiscal year ending June 30, 2020, finding no exceptions or recommendations noted by the outside contract auditors (CliftonLarsonAllen LLP).
REQUEST FOR RESPONSES
Anderson Union High School District
Teaching Current and Future Leaders
The 2020-2021 Shasta County Grand Jury (SCGJ) inquired into the Anderson Union High School District (AUHSD) in response to a citizen’s complaint. The complaint alleged salary discrepancies within the AUHSD. The complaint, with the person's name redacted, and the SCGJ’s initial inquiry were forwarded to the District Attorney's (DA) office for legal counsel. The Shasta County DA's Office advised that the topic was within the purview of the grand jury and was not a matter the DA’s Office believed warranted criminal prosecution. This investigation determined although salary issues had occurred, they have since been addressed. However, additional issues were discovered resulting in recommendations for operational improvement of the AUHSD.
F1. AUHSD meeting agendas are not continuously available for 72 hours prior to Board meetings as required by the Brown Act. On nights and weekends, gates to the campus and district office are closed and locked preventing public access to meeting agendas and minutes, effectively hindering public access for review.
F2. The lack of a “prominent” clickable button on the AUHSD website home page does not meet Brown Act requirements and makes finding Board meetings and agendas cumbersome for the general public. This could potentially hinder public access to Board meeting information.
F3. When AUHSD Trustees conduct business during closed session, accurate reporting of closed sessions during the public session ensures transparency, increases public confidence in trustee activity, and meets Brown Act requirements.
F4. AUHSD has little organized training opportunities for Trustees. Limited training is available for trustees who wish to participate. The lack of an organized training protocol results in inefficiency.
F5. The 2020-2021 SCGJ has found that the current Superintendent is doing a good job of efficiently operating and providing leadership for the AUHSD. The Superintendent’s performance is admirable given the current challenges.
R1. In order for the AUHSD to address and correct the meeting agenda problem specified in Finding 1, the AUHSD should post agendas on a lighted front door or administration office door that is ADA accessible. The AUHSD may elect to build or buy a lighted kiosk to make the agenda accessible at any time. The jury believes that posting the agenda on the front door of every AUHSD school would also be a good practice.
R2. The Superintendent should address and correct the website shortcoming described in Finding 2 by October 31, 2021, by adding an easily identifiable direct link or button on the AUHSD homepage to the “Board of Trustees Meeting Agenda.”
R3. The AUHSD Board President should review reporting requirements and follow those guidelines when reporting closed session items during the public portion of Board meetings. This will help improve the public trust in the Board.
R4. By January 1, 2022, the AUHSD Superintendent should identify and implement a comprehensive training program to establish training for Trustees and administrative personnel. Topics should include but are not limited to: Brown Act requirements, district operation, collegiality, computer skills, Form 700 conflict of interest, AUHSD Board Bylaws, and effective media relations.
REQUEST FOR RESPONSES
AUHSD Board of Trustees:
F1 through F5
R1 through R4
AUHSD Superintendent (invited):
F1 through F5
R1 through R4
Who is Helping the Helpers?
SHASCOM 9-1-1 Report
During the course of its investigation, the 2020-2021 SCGJ determined SHASCOM’s governing board fell short in fulfilling obligations agreed to in 2019. Further, the investigation found SHASCOM’s Board of Directors is not in compliance with the Ralph M. Brown Act for transparency as a local government entity. They did not adequately notice board meetings nor did they maintain public documents and provide reports as required under California’s open meetings law. In short, the investigation found SHASCOM’s Board of Directors operates with little oversight other than the SCGJ. Despite finding some recent improvements, the governing board’s approach to management of the dispatch facility is delayed and reactive only.
F1. SHASCOM’s Board of Directors is not in compliance with California’s Open Meetings Law (The Ralph M. Brown Act) as amended by Assembly Bill No. 2257 in 2016, affecting applicable local government meetings held after January 1, 2019.
F2. By October 31, 2019, SHASCOM’s Board of Directors was to instruct the agency’s Director to provide quarterly reports on recruitment efforts and outcomes. This is being done.
F3. By October 31, 2019, SHASCOM’s Board of Directors was to instruct the agency’s Director to prepare a comprehensive written recruitment plan analyzing appropriate targets and details regarding the timing and methods of recruitment. This has not been done.
F4. Beginning at the September 2019 SHASCOM Board of Directors meeting and at each bi-monthly meeting thereafter, the Board was to require written updates on CAD system performance until all issues are resolved to the satisfaction of each participating agency. This has not been done.
F5. The Spillman Technologies CAD system does not yet satisfactorily meet the needs of SHASCOM, which causes dispatch and first responder complications with a potential for adverse outcomes for first responders as well as citizens requesting assistance.
F6. As of November 30, 2019, SHASCOM’s Board of Directors was to require SHASCOM’s Director to present a timeline for achieving compliance with accreditation certification of the dispatch center, either through POST or an alternate accreditation organization. This was accomplished by August 26, 2020.
F7. By January 31, 2020, SHASCOM’s Board of Directors was to instruct the agency’s Director to present a project plan for incorporating information on people with access and functional needs into the CAD database. This has not been done.
R1. By October 31, 2021, SHASCOM’s Board of Directors shall implement procedures to bring the governing board into compliance with California’s Brown Act.
R2. By October 31, 2021, SHASCOM’s Board of Directors shall instruct the agency’s Director to prepare and implement a comprehensive written recruitment plan analyzing appropriate targets and detailing the timing and methods of recruitment for use by current and future administration personnel. The Director shall provide a written plan to the governing board no later than January 1, 2022.
R3. By October 31, 2021, SHASCOM’s Board of Directors shall require at its November 2021 board meeting, and at each bi-monthly meeting thereafter, written updates on performance of the CAD system until all issues are resolved to the satisfaction of SHASCOM dispatchers.
R4. By October 31, 2021, SHASCOM’s Board of Directors shall instruct the agency’s Director to present a written project plan for incorporating information on people with access and functional needs into the CAD database. The agency’s Director shall provide a written plan to SHASCOM’s Board of Directors no later than January 1, 2022.
REQUEST FOR RESPONSES
SHASCOM Board of Directors:
R1 through R4
Dead Men Tell No Tales
Shasta County Coroner's Office Report
The 2020-2021 Shasta County Grand Jury (SCGJ) undertook an investigation into the daily work done by the Shasta County Sheriff-Coroner’s Office. While death under any circumstance is difficult, those residents served by the Coroner’s Office deserve to receive competent and professional treatment from a high-quality agency. Likewise, county employees performing this difficult but necessary work must be provided the professional education needed to develop the specialized skills while also acquiring a sensitivity for the people they serve. These skilled employees also deserve the resources necessary to successfully perform their jobs in a safe, healthy, and efficient working environment.
This investigation began as a request for policies and procedures overseeing notifications by the Shasta County Sheriff’s Office (SCSO) to the SCGJ to attend post-mortem investigations. The grand jury may be invited to attend an autopsy (post-mortem examination) and/or death review at the discretion of the Sheriff-Coroner. Such autopsies or death review may involve someone who died during, or as a result of, a critical incident including but not limited to officer involved shootings or death while in custody. Allowing the grand jury to attend autopsies or death review allows for greater transparency of the agencies involved with the death investigation. This Grand Jury regularly found themselves in an observation room with no audio input, a limited view of the autopsy from a camera the jury cannot control, and little-to-no interaction with a Deputy Coroner Investigator or pathologist regarding the incident or their findings. As it applies to interaction with this Grand Jury, transparency currently does not exist at the Coroner’s Office. The grand jury being present in the building during an autopsy does not assure transparency.
Forty-eight of the 58 counties in California operate under the Sheriff-Coroner model. Coroners operate under the statutory authority of California Government Code Section 27491, et seq. and California Health and Safety Code Section 102850, among numerous other laws. Policies and procedures the SCSO maintains online do not specifically address daily operations of the Coroner’s Office. This Grand Jury found no written policies and procedures for day-to-day operations.
This Grand Jury inspected the coroner’s facility on August 16, 2021, and found the building outdated and inadequate in size to meet the current and possible future needs of Shasta County. The facility is also not in compliance with California Code of Regulations (CCR); Title 8, Sections 5199(a)(1)(F), 5141(a), 5193(d), and 5193(d)(3)(H), Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) regulations and Center for Disease Control “Standard, Contact and Airborne Precautions” applicable to facilities where autopsies are performed.
As reflected by the findings and recommendations at the conclusion of this report this Grand Jury identified multiple issues with the Coroner’s Office that require attention from both the Board of Supervisors and the Sheriff’s Office.
F1. The Coroner’s Office does not have a formal manual of applicable policies and procedures for day-to-day operations. Therefore, it has been found that training is not always current, complete or consistent.
F2. The autopsy viewing area has no audio, limits viewing from the autopsy suite and during this grand jury term briefing and/or debriefing of the incidents involving the deceased were rare. This resulted in zero transparency to any grand jurors viewing the autopsy.
F3. The autopsy suite does not meet all the minimum Center for Disease Control standards for an autopsy facility. The minimum standards prevent contamination of specimens but more importantly provide safety to personnel from airborne pathogens, viruses, and the like.
F4. Almost all current employees of the Shasta County Coroner’s Office are undertrained in medical and forensic protocol. This can create a dangerous/unhealthy environment as well as incorrect or incomplete autopsy results.
F5. The Shasta County Sheriff’s Office does not encourage or provide available training for Coroner’s Office personnel. This results in undertrained staff who are limited by the knowledge they are provided and unable to move forward in their professional growth.
F6. There is currently no chance for advancement within the Coroner’s Office for any assigned Coroner’s Office personnel. There is only one DCI level and no Captain position. This has led to a higher than average (with respect to the County) turnover of over 50 percent since July 2020.
F7. The Coroner’s Office has no biohazard plan, which leads to an unsafe working environment.
F8. The existing cold storage facility accommodates up to 20 gurneys. When the number of cadavers exceeds this number (and has been as high as 30), the cadavers (in body bags) are stored two to a gurney.
R1. This Grand Jury recommends that the Sheriff’s Office develop written day-to-day procedures for the Coroner’s Office to include office, morgue and field work that meet industry standards, such as those outlined in the California Death Investigations template, by June 30, 2022.
R2. This Grand Jury recommends that the Sheriff’s Office determine the feasibility of expanding the classifications of the Deputy Coroner Investigator into multiple levels (dependent on completed levels of forensic and related training) and present a plan for implementation to the Board of Supervisors no later than December 31, 2022.
R3. This Grand Jury recommends the Board of Supervisors place on its agenda by March 31, 2022, to discuss utilizing the CARES ACT monies granted to the county in 2022 to upgrade and modernize the Coroner’s Office Autopsy Suite to meet industry standards specified in this report.
R4. This Grand Jury recommends the Sheriff’s Office immediately restore the audio and the camera control to the remote autopsy viewing area in the Coroner’s Office.
R5. This Grand Jury recommends the Sheriff’s Office develop a written procedure by June 30, 2022, that includes the Grand Jury requirements to increase transparency, such as:
• A written report or a verbal briefing to the grand jury of the events leading up to the death, from
a DCI, prior to the autopsy.
• Access by the grand jury to the controls that operate the camera in the autopsy suite.
• Access by the grand jury to an audio feed from the autopsy suite.
• Access by the grand jury to the pathologist for follow-up questions after the autopsy.
R6. This Grand Jury recommends the Sheriff’s Office develop a written plan by June 30, 2022, that provides all DCIs with opportunities for additional forensic and job-related training, necessary for continuing professional education, at no personal cost.
REQUEST FOR RESPONSES
Shasta County Board of Supervisors:
Shasta County Sheriff:
R1 through R6