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Pima County Sheriff-elect talks plans to fix fractured department

Posted at 5:26 AM, Dec 07, 2016
and last updated 2016-12-12 12:52:39-05

Newly elected Pima County Sheriff Mark Napier says he can fix a department shaken up by internal turmoil.

Less than a month before he takes office, Napier sat down with KGUN9's Valerie Cavazos to talk about his plans.

Last month, Napier unseated Sheriff Chris Nanos, who was appointed to that position over a year ago by the Board of Supervisors when Clarence Dupnik stepped down before his term ended.

But within a year, alleged corruption led to an FBI investigation that resulted in an indictment of Nanos' second in command, chief deputy Chris Radtke. The FBI probe into the misuse of half a million dollars in federal funds is ongoing.
 
Claims of retaliation against those who sounded the alarm on alleged misdeeds and mismanagement.
 
Napier is now tasked with fixing the damaged department, and pledges to do it quickly.
 
"I've already talked to two bureau chiefs and said frankly," Napier said. "Can you work harder than you're working? And they said, absolutely we can and I said good because you're about to. We're going to flatten the organization out than you're accustomed to and they're going to work harder than they're used to because we're going to consolidate functions."
   
That includes wiping out two senior command positions -- chief deputy, and the recently created chief of staff -- held by Brad Gagnepain, who recently committed suicide.
 
Napier says the consolidations will impact the the front lines.
 
Napier also plans to scrutinize the budget, which he believes  is slightly in the red. The stricter oversight includes making sure federal RICO funds are not mishandled.
 
"There were lump sums of money given to groups and things without any backtrack to see how those monies were actually being spent," Napier said. "This will be incredibly tighter."
 
As Napier tries to remove the dark cloud over the department, he still has to deal with the FBI investigation and upcoming trial.
 
"I've had no conversation with the FBI," he said. "At some point after I take office, they'll probably reach out to me to let me know more about what's going on and how those things will impact the department in the future."
   
In the meantime, Napier will look to ferret out those on his staff who contributed to the turmoil within the department.
 
"I can't turn a blind eye to misconduct in this department before I got there," he said. "And just say okay it's a fresh start. No, it's not a fresh start. So we have an affirmative responsibility to look backward to see if their misconduct prior to me taking office most people will be held accountable for those things."
 
And as Napier holds those who uphold the law to higher standards, he plans to lead by example.
 
The union president accused Sheriff Nanos of workplace bullying and filed a complaint with Pima County. The compliant argued the sheriff is not subject to discipline or dismissal by the Board of Supervisors.
 
That issue raised the question: Who holds the sheriff accountable regarding claims made against him by department staff?
 
"I'm going to hold myself to very high standards and the administrative process by which the county chooses to hold elected officials accountable is really a decision they're free to make," Napier said. "So I won't weigh in, but I think we should be held to same rules any other county employee is accountable to."
 
Napier says he's working to not only bring the pride back into the Pima County Sheriff's Department. He wants to build the bridge back to other law enforcement leaders in Southern Arizona, including Tucson Police chief Chris Magnus.
 
"I met with the Sheriffs already and Magnus a couple of times," Napier said. "I think it's a tremendous opportunity for better cooperation there and need to jump in while the iron's hot. What's the response been? Overwhelmingly positive."
 
Napier takes the oath of office Jan. 3 and plans to do a lot of work before that day.
 
"Tell my wife," he said, "she won't see me much."