The race for Pima County Sheriff

By Mylene Roberts

Mark Napier has been Pima County Sheriff for the past four years since defeating Chris Nanos, who was appointed after the previous sheriff retired in 2015. Both say they were asked to be a candidate for Pima County Sheriff by people in the department.

Chris Nanos has been in law enforcement for over 40 years. Nanos said that while he misses the job, he also misses the people in the department, and that the people that he worked with have become family. 

Napier has been in law enforcement for 30 years. He has committed his life to public service and started as a police officer in 1981. He is running for Pima County Sheriff because he believes that there is a lot more work to be done including his Accountability, Community Engagement and Transparency (ACT) reform program.  

One of the main issues for this election is police accountability. Currently, the Pima Sheriff department has not implemented the use of body cameras on sheriffs. Napier states that in the 30 plus years that he has been in law enforcement, they have been able to hold people responsible without the use of body cameras. However, he is not opposed to body cameras.  Napier wants to eventually get body cameras for the sheriffs, although it will cost a substantial amount of money. Napier said he has done a lot of research  regarding new cameras that can monitor an officer’s heart rate, have GPS as well as a “man-down” sensor. Nanos said he wants to implement the use of body cameras if he becomes Pima County Sheriff. 

Another issue that came up was staffing at the jail. According to Napier, staffing in the department is steady. Napier stated that they are at 90% staffing for deputies and approaching 100% for corrections. Nanos said he would like to help the young men and women that are currently working at the jail advance in their career by waiting until they are 21 to promote them to the police academy.  

Another issue is overpopulation in the jails. Napier states there is a misconception that sheriffs are about to let people out of jail or put people in jail, though within a few months the population of the jail has gone down from 1,900 inmates to 1,450. Nanos would like to implement ankle monitors so inmates are able to go utilize work release programs. These ankle monitors would have GPS locating built into them so an inmate could also be tracked. Nanos also states that 80% of inmates in jail are awaiting trial. 

So why should you vote for them? Napier’s pitch is that he has a remarkably diverse base of experience. He has worked in the administrative department at the University of Arizona, taught graduate school for 15 years and this is the 4th law enforcement agency that he has worked on. Education is also a big part of Napier’s life. He has a master’s degree in criminal justice from Boston University and an undergraduate degree in social psychology. 

Nanos said he would like to help the community by having more community involvement. He wants to prove himself and help make programs within the department better by asking people within that department.