Pima County Sheriff Mark Napier releases plans to reform department

Pima County Sheriffs Department Reform

TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) -Reform is on its way to the Pima County Sheriff’s Department. Sheriff Mark Napier made the announcement via Facebook Wednesday.

They plan to make several changes to policy, including use of force and becoming more transparent.

Sheriff Napier said reform isn’t the admission of wrong-doing but rather a recognition that law enforcement reform is coming. The community wants it and the department wants to respond to that.

“It is clear that law enforcement reform is coming,” said Napier. “The time to act is now and that’s exactly what we’re going to do.”

Several new policies were mentioned including Community Engagement Specialists. They will be employees who have degrees in social work, Sociology, Physchology, or similar academic discipline. They will respond to smaller calls where a deputy may not be needed.

“They’re going to have specific training and specific education to go out and handle these calls that are much better handled at a community level than a law enforcement level,” said Napier.

When it comes to major incidents involving deputies in the jail or field, Napier said information will be released quicker. Mainly to notify the Board sooner than in the past.

“This is very important to notify other political leaders of the goings-on when they’re of major nature.”

When it comes to use of force they’re looking closely at their intervention methods and choke hold policy, that’s currently banned unless deadly force would be authorized.

“We’re going to better define our deescalation policies and deescalation practices as a matter of policy.”

In September 2019 a PCSD deputy Manuel Van Santen was in the spotlight after using excessive force to restrain a teenage boy, also a quadruple amputee. He was not charged in the incident but experts agree it should have been handled differently.

“But even the best of police departments, the best of law enforcement agencies can always do better,” said Napier.

The sheriff was not available today for questions in regards to his policy but we plan to follow up with him tomorrow.

These will be in place by August.

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