COCHISE COUNTY — The outgoing sheriff of Pima County will soon become the second-in-command at the Cochise County Sheriff’s Office.

Pima County Sheriff Mark Napier will join the Cochise County Sheriff’s Office on Jan. 3 as the Chief of Staff, said Cochise County Sheriff’s spokeswoman Carol Capas.

The position was formerly known as “chief deputy,” but after Chief Deputy Thad Smith retired on Oct. 30, Sheriff Mark Dannels and his staff began looking at making some adjustments, including changing the position’s title.

Napier served as sheriff of Pima County for four years after he was elected in 2016. He lost a second bid for the job in November when his opponent Chris Nanos was elected. Nanos, who won by just over 3,000 votes, had been appointed as sheriff in 2015 and lost to Napier in the 2016 election.

In a press release announcing Napier’s hiring, Capas said Dannels worked with members of his command staff as well as with other agencies to determine how to “modify and enhance the various vacant positions within the organization including the Chief Deputy slot.”

During the review process, Capas said Dannels and his staff noted that several sheriffs departments nationwide were filling their second in command position as a chief of staff. Some of the individuals holding those positions are attorneys. Capas said Tuesday that there were several applicants for the Cochise County opening who are not in law enforcement.

Napier was among those who applied. The 39-year law enforcement veteran has an “extensive background in public safety administration and government budgeting,” Capas said. He also has a Master’s degree in criminal justice, a bachelor’s degree in social psychology and a certificate in public policy management.

“I worked with many of our staff during this process for interviews and input into Mark becoming our Chief of Staff, and I am confident that he will be an asset not only to the Sheriff’s Office, but to Cochise County as a whole,” Dannels said. “Because Mark will be my second in command, I thought it was important to modify the position title to Chief of Staff as he will ultimately be managing all of our staff to include Deputies, Support, and Detention divisions versus the previous title indicating the supervision was for sworn personnel specifically.

“I look forward to a new year with new thoughts, ideas, and interactions with the help of my Command Staff and each of our employees,” Dannels added.

The soon-to-be chief of staff said he is thrilled to continue being involved in law enforcement with Dannels, someone he said he has always worked well with.

“I’m excited, I love public service,” Napier said Tuesday. “I started in law enforcement in 1981 and I wanted to still contribute to the community in a positive way.”

When it became evident that he would not be serving a second term as Pima’s sheriff, Napier said he was talking to another sheriff in the state and learned about the vacancy in Dannel’s agency.

Capas said Napier, who will continue living in Pima County, also remains active as a criminal justice educator with Boston University Masters’ Program in Criminal Justice.

Dannels said he has known Napier for several years, and worked closely with him when Napier became Pima County’s top lawman. He said Napier received “all positive reviews” during the interview process for the new post.

“He is a proven leader in public safety,” Dannels said. “To have a proven leader in law enforcement (come work with us) is very exciting.”