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Backeberg steps down as Lewis and Clark County chief deputy coroner

Posted at 7:06 PM, Apr 26, 2019
and last updated 2019-04-26 21:07:07-04

(HELENA) Friday was the last day in the office for Lewis and Clark County’s chief deputy coroner.

Bryan Backeberg has announced he is leaving the coroner’s division. He and his family are moving to Arizona, where he hopes to get a job as a firefighter.

“It’s been a long time coming; my wife and I have discussed this for quite some time,” he said. “As much as I’ve dealt with families in need, I think it’s time to put my family first.”

Backeberg first became a deputy coroner about five years ago, serving under longtime coroner Mickey Nelson. The Lewis and Clark County Commission then appointed him as coroner in 2016, after Nelson’s death. Backeberg spent just over two years as coroner, until the office was consolidated with the Lewis and Clark County Sheriff’s Office on Jan. 1. Sheriff Leo Dutton then named him chief deputy coroner.

During his time in the coroner’s office, Backeberg had to deal with challenges like addressing a backlog of records and evidence in storage. He emphasized the importance of providing compassionate service to the families he worked with, and he sought to reduce the pressure and burnout among coroner’s office employees. He said he’s proud of where he is leaving the division.

“From where it was to today, I think it’s been improving — and can always improve,” he said.

In addition to his work with the coroner’s division, Backeberg also served as a volunteer firefighter with the West Valley Volunteer Fire Department. He had previously worked as a dispatcher and a reserve sheriff’s deputy.

“He deserves a pat on the back for all the work he’s done,” said Dutton. “We’ll miss him.”

Dutton thanked Backeberg for his help as the sheriff’s office took over responsibility for coroner’s duties.

“He handled that with a good amount of grace and just continued to do his job,” he said.

Since the offices were consolidated, a number of sheriff’s deputies have gone through training to serve as deputy coroners. The coroner’s division also moved from its former offices on North Rodney Street to a new location alongside the rest of the sheriff’s office in the Law and Justice Center.

Dutton said leaders will look at how to organize the coroner’s division going forward, but he does not expect to hire another chief deputy coroner to replace Backeberg.

“We’re four months into having the coroner’s office, so I know there will be some changes, but the public won’t notice any difference in service,” said Dutton.

Backeberg said he is grateful for the chance to serve the people of Lewis and Clark County.

“I wanted to thank the community, thank everyone for the opportunity to serve the citizens,” he said. “It’s been a pleasure; I’m going to miss everybody.”

-Reported by Jonathon Ambarian/MTN News