PIMA COUNTY, Ariz. (KGUN) — The Pima County Sheriff’s Department is rearranging deputies and reshaping district and patrol zone boundaries, with the goal of better law enforcement coverage for growing areas outside of Tucson.
The first step in that plan was officially unveiled Tuesday at the Pima County Fairgrounds, where the new PCSD Vail District substation is now fully operational.
The Vail and Corona de Tucson area southeast of Tucson has grown rapidly in the past decade.
Pima County Sheriff Chris Nanos says when some recruits graduate their current program in five weeks, there will be enough deputies to staff the new substation 24 hours a day.
“We need to be closer to our community in more ways than one, but physically just so that we can provide a better service to you, a bigger presence for you, and just like here, faster response times,” Nanos said.
Nanos is facing a staffing shortage, as previous sheriffs did. For now, he says he is trying to be more efficient with the staffing he does currently have.
Part of that effort, Nanos says, is moving deputies and shifting District lines that “have not changed in 50 years.”
“It really comes down to where is your staff at, and can you better locate them in areas where they need to be,” Nanos said.
For big picture changes, Nanos is eyeing for the department, it also comes down to money.
Nanos is seeking more funding to renovate the Pima County Jail and to provide more competitive pay for his employees, which could also jumpstart the hiring that could end the staffing shortage.
“When I have civilian staff that has to go out at night and drive for Uber or Lyft as a second job just to make ends meet, that’s tough,” Nanos said.
The Board of Supervisors is currently studying the pay issue before making a budget decision. The original plan was for a year-long study, but Nanos is pushing for a quicker response. He now says he is optimistic that study could be completed by early 2022.
There already appears to be some support for additional funding. Fourth District Supervisor Steve Christy appeared at Tuesday’s grand opening of the Vail substation, which is in his district.
“We’re gonna try to get the deputies some more money here and that’s very important to us,” Christy said to the group outside the station before a ribbon cutting.
Nanos says he is also pushing for reform and transparency in the department, as well as greater hiring diversity.
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