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Pima County sheriff faces posse of lawmen in re-election bid

Pima County Sheriff Chris Nanos is seeking re-election to the post he first won in 2020, but four former and current members of the sheriff's department are eyeing his job.

He faces challenges both from within the Democratic Party and from potential Republican candidates.

Nanos was appointed sheriff in 2015 following the retirement of longtime local attorney Clarence Dupnik, but lost the 2016 election to Republican Mark Napier.

Nanos returned to the job in a 2020 rematch with Napier, but his second term was marred by a police shortage and a worrying number of deaths at the Pima County Jail.

Nanos, who started his career with the Pima County Sheriff's Department in 1984 as a jail guard and rose to chief of staff, said he hopes for a second term to bring stability to the workplace and “to even things out.” To bring it back, I said. I think we're heading in that direction. ”

He said it hasn't been easy to hire new lieutenants and correctional officers at the prison. “We're still battling some of those challenges,” he said. “But when it comes to recruiting, training and hiring, we are much further along than we were before.”

Nanos said he has taken steps to make it harder to smuggle drugs into prisons, including adding drug-sniffing dogs and new security procedures to avoid fentanyl overdoses in prisons.

“We just keep tightening, keep tightening, and keep tightening,” Nanos said. “Solved? I doubt it.” But Nanos added: “Knock on wood. It's been about six months since we've had a death at our facility. We hope that's because some of the things we've been doing have been helpful.”

Nanos said there are fundamental problems with the prison, most of which were built in the 1980s and expanded in 2004. That's a mess. We need a new prison. ”

The Pima County Commission, which is considering future options for the jail, released a report in December 2023 that estimates the cost of repairing and expanding the jail to meet projected needs over the next 20 years is $490,000. The construction cost of the new prison was estimated at $680 million. In today's dollars. The Committee noted that these preliminary figures were rough estimates.

Nanos said he wants to improve the department's use of technology in his second term, such as putting cameras on drones, but he wants to be cautious.

“Once we start implementing facial recognition and putting cameras at every intersection, that's a little bit of Big Brother to me,” Nanos said. “So we're looking at what's out there.”

Nanos is being challenged by Sandy Rosenthal in the Democratic primary. Sandy Rosenthal is an Army veteran who retired as a PCSD lieutenant in 2015 after a 36-year career that included commanding SWAT teams, serving on bomb squads and as an administrator.

“We want to create safer communities for the future of our children and the nation as a whole. This doesn't have to be a pipe dream,” Rosenthal said. “I believe that while we recruit and retain additional staff, we can help retain the men and women who do the important work we do for our communities. It starts with trying to fix that and getting the right people at the table. I want to do this work with a positive outlook and not blame the past.”

Rosenthal said he was inspired to run after hearing stories from former colleagues about low morale and staffing shortages. He said he was also concerned about the number of deaths in prisons.

“It's time to intervene,” Rosenthal said. “Now is the time to get involved and change aspects of how the department operates.”

Rosenthal is a political consulting firm that also helped 2nd District Supervisor Matt Heinz achieve an upset victory in the 2020 Democratic primary over Ramon Valadez, who had served on the committee for nearly 20 years. , hired Uplift Campaigns.

Trista Trumpos di Genova, who frequently runs for various offices, is also gathering signatures to run for sheriff in the Democratic primary. Genova was removed from the ballot in 2020 when a judge ruled there were not enough signatures on a petition for Pima County Supervisor, but on August 30, 2023, legislators in Pima County was arrested on suspicion of animal cruelty after the animal was discovered. At home, her health deteriorated and she kept 128 chickens, 3 chicks, 3 peacocks, 3 dogs, 1 cat, 1 finch, and 3 dead chickens. The chickens were removed from her property. Ms. Genova has previously flirted with running for magistrate judge, governor of Arizona and president of the United States, but she alleges she is the victim of malicious prosecution.

The Republican lineup includes three veterans of the Pima County Sheriff's Department.

On the Republican side, three of the four Republicans who filed paperwork to run also worked for the Sheriff's Department.

Heather Lappin, who has nearly 20 years of experience with the department, said, “I will restore the health of our department, provide transparency for taxpayers, prioritize our jails, and strengthen my commitment to the welfare and safety of our sheriffs.'' He said he was running to maintain the position. Resident of Pima County. I am running for sheriff in order to create a sheriff that Pima County can be proud of. ”

Lappin works as the eastern section chief at the county's dilapidated jail. She has also supervised various training programs and worked in the Internal Affairs Department.

Terry Frederick, a former Pima County deputy who ran for sheriff in 2012, said the sheriff's department should pay more attention to border issues “through collaboration with local law enforcement, tribal law enforcement, and the community.” He said that.

“Our proximity to the Mexican border presents unique challenges, and the influx of illegal immigrants is a pressing issue that requires effective leadership,” Frederick told the Sentinel in an email. “I am committed to implementing a comprehensive strategy to address border security while upholding our values ​​of justice, equity, and respect for human rights.”

As a PCSD lieutenant, Bill Phillips served as district commander for the Vail district and interim commander for the Rincon district. The Marine veteran also served on his SWAT team and oversaw the school resource officer unit, including developing workshops for active shooter training with schools. Phillips retired in 2022 after more than 30 years with the department.

He said he joined the campaign because he was concerned about low morale among lawmakers.

“For us to get back on track, they need to know they have support at the top, so they can go back out there and do their job the right way, and I We can get back to fighting crime,” Phillips said. “I understand that this is going to be a tough job. It's not going to be easy. It's going to take a lot of dedication and effort.”

The fourth Republican candidate, Brian T. Hoffman, has not yet launched a campaign website or established a social media presence.

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