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Candidate commentary

Nanos: Character matters in Pima sheriff election

As your sheriff, my priorities will be more than just campaign promises. My priorities will help shape us as an agency and provide for a safer and better-served community.

Given the recent distrust for law enforcement, my greatest priority will be to establish a much-needed community connection. I will be present in Pima County and cultivate partnerships and relationships with community members and organizations. This is key to understanding where the law enforcement and public safety needs are.

The sheriff's work should be centered around serving those in Pima County. Therefore, working locally and becoming fully informed, involved in community events and listening to concerns is critical.

I will be present. I will listen to you, and I will work with you to find solutions and enact policies that correspond with this community's needs.

I will also provide a professional and compassionate police service that deals with real reform. My 41 years of law enforcement experience means that I understand that law enforcement resources must be focused on those predatory criminals who threaten the lives and security of good people in the community.

I will focus on public safety that is embodied in efforts designed to prevent crime through partnering with community agencies. Collaboratively, we will provide services that address such social ills as drug addiction and mental illness. We will work to find alternatives to over incarceration by deferring those afflicted with mental health disorders and drug addiction.

This not only makes sense, it also saves millions of taxpayer dollars.

With respect to setting priorities and managing funding, competent financial management is directly linked to innovation and precise prioritization.

Monies can be saved in our Corrections facility through electronic monitoring, for example, and those monies can be shared with social services to address such problems as drug addiction and mental illness. Simply by using electronic monitors that cost $15 a day, versus $127 a day to house an inmate in our jail.

This will save Pima County tax payers tens of millions of dollars a year. That's savings which could go toward the purchase of body cameras and other technology to help us become more effective and efficient in keeping you safe.

Ultimately the sheriff must identify critical law enforcement priorities and make decisions to meet community needs utilizing budgeted resources. As your sheriff, I would never relegate those responsibilities to the county administrator, and I would never allow tight financial restraints to interfere with providing necessary equipment that keeps us all safe.

I will provide for a department that is as diverse as our community. I will actively recruit those who accurately represent the community we serve. Cultivating interest in prospective employees relates back to community connection. Recruiting and retaining the best candidates involves reaching out to the community to attract those with the moral character, fitness, and service-minded inclination to join our ranks. It is from these connections that recruitment naturally springs.

The sheriff's participation in local groups and connecting with youth through schools and other activities is a way to connect and mentor young people. Being engaged with the youth of our community is the best crime prevention tool we have. We now know if our kids graduate high school, they have a seven times greater chance of never seeing the insides of our jail. A strong school resource officer program that focuses on mentoring versus enforcement, can have a positive impact on not just the future of our youth, but our community as a whole.

I will also provide a competent and honest administration. An administration that treats staff with the dignity and the respect they deserve. The Pima County sheriff's civilians, corrections, and commissioned staff must always be held to a high standard.

The sheriff must respect and respond to employees and hold them accountable to these high standards while setting the example. The sheriff should always be held to the highest of standards where honesty and integrity should never be in question. As Mike Hellon, chair of the Law Enforcement Merit Commission stated, "If our leaders in law enforcement cannot be trusted to tell the truth, as a society, we are all in trouble."

This election, especially this election, character matters.

Former Pima County Sheriff Chris Nanos is a Democratic candidate seeking to again hold that office.

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Dylan Smith/TucsonSentinel.com

Nanos in 2015, as he was readying to take over the Pima County Sheriff's Department.


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