STOCKTON (CBS13) — Rebuilding community trust in San Joaquin County is a priority the newly-elected sheriff is already working on as he prepares to take office.
Pat Withrow defeated incumbent Steve Moore on Tuesday after receiving 57 percent of votes.
Withrow wants to recruit deputies and have a more diverse department. He also wants to work with families, some still waiting for their loved one’s autopsy reports.
Brittany Gonzales just received her son’s autopsy report. Two-year-old Jax Love died almost a year ago, allegedly in the care of his stepmom.
“I just broke down and cried, like hyperventilating, just shaky. It brought back all those memories and it was hard,” she said.
Gonzalez waited 10 months because of the unexpected resignation of Dr. Bennet Omalu and Dr. Susan Parson, San Joaquin County’s forensic pathologists. They quit over accusations the current sheriff, Steve Moore, interfered with their work.
“I know, I wasn’t the only one, as far as mishandling autopsies, there are others out there. I kind of want to have an internal investigation go one and hopefully see, like get some peace of mind for the other victims’ families out there,” said Gonzales.
Newly-elected sheriff, Withrow supports an independent investigation by the attorney general’s office into possible tampering with death investigations. His plan, for now, is having a regular open dialogue with families.
“You know, we’re going to do everything we can to reach out and try to mend those fences and give our apologies. This is going to be an administration that admits when we make mistakes and we are going to apologize to people, and we are going to do what we can that people are getting the results of their death investigations as quickly as possible,” he said.
The San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors voted in April to separate the coroner and sheriff’s offices. Withrow is open to having Omalu and Parson return to their jobs.
A representative for Parson said she would consider coming back. As for, Omalu he’s already applied for the interim position.
“It would really help us attract the best of the best in that field, so that the people of San Joaquin County would get great service, it’s going to be a medical examiner’s office that is going to be an example for the rest of the country,” said Withrow.
Withrow will be officially sworn into office in January.