January 18, 2024

Law enforcement unions disagree on Sheriff Nanos’ leadership

Following a vote of no confidence, a different union has expressed support for the Sheriff.

Pima County Sheriff patch hero A patch for the Pima County Sheriff's Dept.
AZPM Staff

Disagreement is brewing in the ranks of the Pima County Sheriff’s Department following one union’s call for new leadership.

In a recent statement, the Pima County Deputy’s Organization claimed that Nanos’ management has caused departmental problems from poor morale, low employee retention, to further deterioration of the Pima County Jail. 85 deputies out of 86 who chose to participate voted no confidence.

But the union with bargaining power to the Board of Supervisors, the Pima County Sheriff’s Deputy Association, said claims of a toxic work culture are false.

“I think that's a false statement. I don't even think that that's anything that the community needs to consider going into this election,” said Association President Eric Cervantes.

In a written statement, his union said recent pay increases and the Sheriff’s efforts to build a new county jail is movement in the right direction, and refuted claims that Nanos displays retaliatory behavior.

PCSDA statement

“Recent pushes toward engaging with employees by creating anonymized department recommendations ensures each employee has a way to directly impact and improve the work environment, and reflect the Sheriff’s willingness to take into account other perspectives and ideas,” PCSDA wrote.

There are five unions within the department. Mark O’Dell, President of the county’s Fraternal Order of Police, did not side with either organization, but said the opposing unions’ frustration is understandable.

“There's a huge disconnect between the executives and the deputies. And so it's no surprise that the deputies are extremely frustrated with the command,” he said.

The Sheriff’s Deputy Association has been active since 1997 and has around 170 members, Cervantes said. The Pima County Deputy’s Organization was started in 2023, and has just over 200 members.

O’Dell said disagreement over leadership is natural in law enforcement departments, but the number of opinions in Pima County’s is a challenge.

“With that many groups, it creates a huge disadvantage for all of us. It makes it difficult for the labor groups to get things accomplished when there's such a divide,” he said.

Nanos is up for reelection this fall, and union leaders said they expected disagreements to continue.

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