After seven months on the job, the second in command at the Cochise County Sheriff’s Office is calling it quits.
Mark Napier, who joined the Sheriff’s Office in January, is retiring from law enforcement, and will take a new role as an assistant county administrator with Pima County government.
A law enforcement officer for 40 years, Napier was sheriff of Pima County until November when he lost the election to Chris Nanos.
When that happened, Cochise County Sheriff Mark Dannels — whose second in command had retired — tapped Napier for the position, which was reconfigured from chief deputy to chief of staff.
On Tuesday, Dannels said Napier has agreed to stay on part-time until the end of the year to help the Sheriff’s Office transition toward a replacement. The sheriff praised Napier for his management skills.
“He’s a very talented administrator,” Dannels said. “There are a lot of people who were after him. Am I sorry to see him go? Yes. But this opportunity was right in his backyard. It’s a great opportunity for someone of his talent.
“We moved the needle with him,” the sheriff added.
In a memo to his staff and other Cochise County administrators, Dannels also said: “On behalf of the men and women of the Cochise County Sheriff’s Office, I wish Chief Napier the best regarding his new endeavor and am proud we had the honor to serve with him! Good Luck my Friend and Thank You for your service to this office!! Chief Napier’s last day will be July 27th. Your leadership team and I will be working on a transition plan as we move forward with the possibility of having Chief Napier continue in a part-time status until we can fill his position. I will keep you posted.”
Dannels said he is still not sure how he will fill Napier’s position, or whether it will still be a chief of staff slot.
“We have the option of restructuring,” the sheriff said Tuesday. “We’re going to reassess the position.”
After former second-in-command Thad Smith retired last fall, 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,” Sheriff’s spokeswoman Carol Capas had said.
During that process, Capas said Dannels and his staff noted that several sheriff’s departments nationwide were filling their second in command position as a chief of staff. Napier fit the bill because of his background in public safety administration and government budgeting. He holds a master’s degree in criminal justice, a bachelor’s degree in social psychology and a certificate in public policy management.
Napier, who could not be reached for comment Tuesday, issued this statement: “I accepted a position with Pima County as a career advancement opportunity and I was honored to be part of the greatness of the Cochise County Sheriff’s Office under Sheriff Mark Dannels. I have very much enjoyed my time with CCSO and am ending my career with an agency I respect and admire.”