The Pima County Sheriff’s Department will continue providing deputies to the Pima County Board of Supervisors after Sheriff Nanos reversed his decision that would have removed his officers entirely.
In emails sent to the board on Sept. 17, Sheriff Nanos said his department was no longer responsible for Board security due to budget constraints.
In an email sent last week to Board Chair Adelita Grijalva, Nanos pivoted and said that his department was now able to provide one deputy to the bimonthly meetings. The original assignment for the meetings was two officers.
Sergeant Aaron Cross of the Civil Division and President of the Pima County Deputy's Organization, who used to be regularly assigned to these meetings, said Nanos’ concerns over the budget are unsubstantiated because officers get paid the same no matter where they are assigned.
“It makes no impact on the taxpayer, nor the budget for the Sheriff’s Department, whether the two commissioned personnel were working down there in security or in our offices a block down the road,” Cross said.
Nanos told AZPM in an email that this decision saves his department money because security positions were always funded via contract through the Board of Supervisors until he took office.
“The BOS discontinued that practice when my term commenced. Not to mention, these positions could be utilized in other areas,” he wrote.
However, the back-and-forth comes just as the board is entering a state investigation of Nanos’ handling of a sexual assault of a female deputy last year. Nanos originally withdrew security two days prior to the Sept. 19 board meeting, where the board was set to discuss an investigation.
After the Board voted 3-2 on opening an investigation, County Administrator Jan Lesher wrote letters to both the Arizona Attorney General’s Office and the Department of Public Safety on Sept. 27, requesting both institutions look into Nanos’ actions.
In the email to Grijalva, Nanos admitted that his actions may have seemed retaliatory and apologized, but also claimed that an unnamed member of the board was trying to politically undermine his authority.
“I will not subject my staff to engage in political theatrics. Such behavior goes against county policy and should not be tolerated by anyone of us,” Nanos wrote.
Cross said that in the past, just one officer has been assigned to supervise the meetings. But in recent years, he said the “temperature has gone up” at the board meetings, and Sheriff Nanos’ actions were deliberate.
“It was meant to send a signal to the Board that he’d be willing to essentially endanger them by pulling security when he knows it's needed,” he said.
The Board of Supervisors is now awaiting the next steps from the Attorney General’s Office and the Department of Public Safety into how an investigation will proceed.