TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - Pima County Sheriff Mark Napier released a letter answering charges leveled at him by the Pima County Deputy Sheriff’s Association in a no confidence vote.
How many deputies participated in the vote, that is the number of people who voted in favor or against, has not been released by the association.
But Napier said he “feels it’s a small percentage of the 1,500 people" who make up the county sheriff’s workforce.
The letter can be read here.
Statement on the vote from Sheriff Mark D. Napier:
This is not the first no confidence vote approved by the association. Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik was charged with “being out of touch” with his deputies in 2002 and 2004.
In October 2016, Sheriff Chris Nanos was charged with allowing corruption to flourish in the department.
Stephen Portell, the attorney for the deputies and correctional officers, who also participated in the vote, said the past votes have no bearing on the latest one.
“My answer to you on the question of credibility, they’re not here to pass final judgement for anybody but themselves,” Portell said. “They’re here to inform the public of their position.”
Portell said the voters would be the final arbiter.
He said that the sheriff approached the organization in 2016 making a series of promises which caused the group to support Napier over Nanos.
Those included staffing issues, which are still persistent according to the association.
Pay issues, such as compression, which means new hires sometimes are paid as much as experienced deputies.
Napier says he needs a higher starting pay to attract people to become deputies.
Another issue is harassment and intimidation. Napier says that’s being investigated.
Portell says the reason the association won’t release the number of votes is because of the fear of retaliation, which he says persists.
“In this particular case with this particular vote on no confidence, did the Sheriff have adequate warning of the concerns?” Portell said. “We’ve been talking about if for three years.”
“We’ve tried to be responsive to their concerns over the past few years when they communicate them to us,” Napier said. “But we often hear about it from back channels. their grievances.”
The no confidence vote is non binding. The Association is asking the Sheriff to step aside in 2020. The sheriff has given every indication that he will seek the seat again.
One of the association members, Kevin Kubitskey, has filed to run for sheriff but Portell said that has no bearing on the no confidence vote.