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Sheriff's Chief of Staff Bradley Gagnepain dead at 59

Bradley Gagnepain, a longtime employee of the Pima County Sheriff's Department and the chief of staff for Sheriff Chris Nanos, died Sunday night.

Gagnepain, 59, committed suicide around 9 p.m., authorities said.

The former bureau chief, who retired in 2014, returned to the department as a special advisor to former Sheriff Clarence Dupnik. Nanos gave him the title "chief of staff" last September, putting Gagnepain in charge of special investigations and community service operations for PCSD.

In an email to employees, Nanos said Gagnepain was "one of the great leaders and visionaries in our department's history."

"Brad Gagnepain was a behind-the-scenes leader, the man behind the curtain, who had his fingerprints on so many of the successful programs and events in our department. Although, as a true leader, he took credit for none," Nanos wrote.

In 1978, while serving in the Air Force, Gagnepain joined PCSD as a reserve deputy, department spokesman Deputy Ryan Inglett said.

In July 1981, he became a patrol deputy, Inglett said, and was then tasked organizing and training the newly formed Sheriff's Auxiliary Volunteers.

"This and other crime prevention programs developed by Chief Gagnepain swiftly gained national recognition," Inglett said.

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Gagnepain was promoted through the ranks, rising to major and bureau chief by 1998.

He retired in 2014 after 35 years in law enforcement, but soon returned as an advisor to Dupnik. Last year, Nanos expanded Gagnepain's role "to provide leadership and guidance in his administration," Inglett said.

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Bradley Gagnepain