/ Modified oct 30, 2012 11:21 a.m.

Pima County Sheriff Candidates Forum

Incumbent Democratic Sheriff Clarence Dupnik, Republican Mark Napier and Green Party candidate Dave Croteau debate the issues

Read the forum transcript here:

Andrea Kelly: Good evening and welcome to Arizona Illustrated for Monday, the 29th of October, 2012. I’m Andrea Kelly and tonight we bring you a special presentation of Arizona Illustrated as part of Your Vote 2012. We’re holding a forum with the three candidates who want to be elected to a four year term as Pima County Sheriff. Joining us, in alphabetical order, are Green candidate Dave Croteau, Democratic incumbent Clarence Dupnik and Republican challenger Mark Napier. Thank you all three for being here tonight.

All: Thank you.

Andrea Kelly: Let’s start with a little bit of an introduction. Dave Croteau, you’re running for Sheriff and you might not, all viewers might not know who you are so if you could just introduce yourself just a little bit for us.

Dave Croteau: Yeah, I’m Dave Croteau. I’m a lifelong Tucsonan that has served and worked in this community for all of my life and in my adult life as members of various committees and involvements in the community as an activist, as an elected leader of my neighborhood association, an elder in my church and a participant in activism for the community that I love and appreciate my entire life.

Andrea Kelly: And Sheriff Dupnik, you’ve been in office for 32 years but is there anything you’d like people to know about you that they might not already know?

Clarence Dupnik: Well, I’ve been in law enforcement my entire life. I spent 20 years at the Tucson Police Department and almost 35 now at the Pima County Sheriff’s Department. I’m related to Methuselah, he’s a first cousin of mine. But I’ve always enjoyed my job and that’s why I’m still here.

Andrea Kelly: And Mark Napier, introduce yourself to our viewers.

Mark Napier: Well, thank you, Andrea. My name’s Mark Napier, I’m the Republican candidate for Pima County Sheriff. I have 28 years of experience in law enforcement, 21 of those being right here with the Tucson Police Department where I was an officer, a sergeant, then a lieutenant and finally captain. When I retired from TPD I was Captain of the Southside Patrol Division. Then I went up to the City of Glendale where I was Assistant Director of the Glendale Police Department. While I was going through my career I went back to school, got my undergraduate degree in social psychology and went on to get my master’s degree in criminal justice from Boston University. I currently teach for Boston University on the side as well. I hope to be the next Sheriff of Pima County cause I’d like to extend my commitment to public service as the next Sheriff of Pima County.

Andrea Kelly: All right. I’d like to start the questioning by talking about an incident that happened last summer, the SWAT shooting in which Jose Guerena was killed. That’s the incident, if our viewers would remember, there was a search warrant being served at his house and he had a gun and the SWAT team ended up shooting him 71 times and he was killed as a result. So we’ll start with you on this one, Sheriff Dupnik. Has this changed how you might handled this situations in the future?

Clarence Dupnik: No, not at all. The reason that the case got so much attention was because the local newspaper mis-portrayed what happened. As a matter of fact, what our joint…our regional SWAT team which we created was involved in this particular incident and they did what they’re trained to do and they went in force and if they didn’t they would be endangering people’s lives. They don’t understand that. But the local newspaper, based on the way they editorialized it three times implied if not actually said at some point that we were…we had shot an innocent Marine and we were not saying anything because we were trying to cover it up. None of that was true. First of all, he wasn’t an innocent Marine. As a matter of fact, if he would…if we hadn’t shot him that day we would have arrested him because he had a shotgun in his possession that was stolen from my next door neighbor. But he’s been involved with the Salaya Family, he’s married to the Salaya Family, he was the enforcer for the Salaya Family and we have arrested all the members of that family since then and his name is replete throughout the indictment itself so he would have been arrested too.

Andrea Kelly: Was the incident just about the stolen shotgun or what was the warrant being served?

Clarence Dupnik: Oh, no, it was about narcotics. As a matter of fact, we recovered substantial narcotics information that day. His mother for example had a locker and we recovered a ledger from that locker that was put there by Jose Guerena and it had about $250,000 worth of transactions, narcotics.

Andrea Kelly: Mr. Napier, how would you handle this situation as sheriff in the future?

Mark Napier: Well, I think there are two issues. One is whether or not the deadly force was warranted when the search warrant was served. That’s one issue. The other issue are whether the tactics that led up to that encounter were sound and I have some reservations about that, the amount of intel work that might have been done up front. I have a little bit of trouble with fire discipline by the SWAT team. 71 rounds is a lot of rounds. They’re going down range and they’re going to hit something. So I have some concerns about the tactics used. The issue of whether deadly force was warranted once they made service I think that’s clear. He was armed with a firearm, the officers have no way of knowing that that gun was on save and they were I believe justified in using deadly force at that point but I do have issues with the things that led up to that, that maybe there were some tactical options that could have been explored a little further.

Andrea Kelly: And Mr. Croteau, as a sheriff candidate, how would you handle this situation in the future?

Dave Croteau: Well, I want to address the issue of innocent or not innocent. Because we do have due process and because the serving of the search warrant turned into a death sentence for this man and that is not innocence until proven guilty. He never had his day in court so he did die at the hands of the state an innocent man. He did not stand trial, he did not stand for these accusations to defend himself. He had no defense. He had his weapon to defend his wife and child who were in the home and it was on safety. And because of the action of SWAT serving a search warrant, I would certainly not do that. The intelligence necessary to keep the safety of the wife and the son were overlooked in this action. If we didn’t have the intelligence to know that a SWAT action is going to employ these very strong military type action, has to have the intelligence before we bring the SWAT. And compounded the issue was the fact that the next day reported that he fired first so the gathering of those people involved with that action didn’t have the story correct, the newspaper reported that he fired first. That didn’t happen. The other thing that was so egregious in this action, that there was no medical assistance given to him after he was shot and this is so damning to the actions of these police professionals and to a dedicated Marine who did die an innocent man that day.

Andrea Kelly: Do you care to respond to anything your opponents have said?

Clarence Dupnik: Sure. Anytime you point an AR15 at a bunch of cops and you know they’re cops because they’ve been there for a number of minutes, they’ve got megaphones, microphones, knocking on the door, Spanish, English, everybody…the whole neighborhood was aware, this was during the daylight hours. You point an AR15 at a bunch of cops and you’re going to get killed.

Andrea Kelly: All right. Our next question we’ll start with you Mr. Napier, broaden our discussion physically and figuratively here. The county is…we talk about Tucson metro area a lot when we talk about issues in the county but as sheriff you would be representing and overseeing law enforcement for the entire county which includes a lot of rural areas. How would you handle law enforcement in those outlying areas that are not in the metro area?

Mark Napier: Well, you’re correct. The county is about 9,200 square miles so it’s bigger than many states. I spoke to a group of ranchers a couple of weekends ago about their concerns about how the Sheriff’s Department interacts with them. One of the things that Pinal County has done with some success is to categorize deputies as rural deputies so they know more of the issues that are facing rural ranchers, especially along our border, to make that better connection and better lines of communication with these outlying areas. We also have to remember that there are several communities that are in unincorporated Pima County that rely on the Sheriff’s Department for what would be like municipal police service, Vail being one of those and Green Valley being another so in effect the Sheriff’s Department is the police department for those communities. So I think you’ve got to take a very broad look at the county because there are pockets of communities in the county but there are also some exceptionally rural areas along with the Tohono O’odham Nation which is very, very large and our ability to connect up with them and communicate with them in an effective way is also important in policing that entire area and also addressing border safety issues with the other sheriff’s in Southern Arizona.

Andrea Kelly: Specifics on how you would handle some of that.

Mark Napier: Well, specifically I would be more communicative with the border sheriffs. I’ve already started doing some outreach to political leaders. I’ve spoken to several United States Congressmen and a United States Senator about concerns that I have around the security of the border. We need their help. No sheriff can secure the border, that’s a flawed idea. You don’t have the power to do that. What you have the power to do is exact some political pressure to insure that Southern Arizona gets the resources that it needs to secure the border because the insecurity of our border is a public safety issue.

Andrea Kelly: Mr. Croteau, how would you handle the rural law enforcement aspect of serving as the top law enforcement official in Pima County?

Dave Croteau: Well, I would look at community based policing that we ran pilot programs for the City of Tucson with…with the departments both these gentlemen have served under and that transition was a philosophy that was incorporated when Doug Smith, the Chief of Police of Tucson brought to us. I was on a citizens committee to transform TPD into this community based policing and the same can work within our rural area and that’s where we have geographical areas and a beat deputy responsible for a geographical area, getting to know the citizens. We know that neighborhood watch and the citizens engaged with their community and our services in law enforcement and public health are best communicated within that geographical area and I’m a big advocate for the elected leadership in what I call middle councils like we have in the neighborhoods within the City of Tucson where we’ve…had worked a pilot program, where we had the beat officer meet with elected leaders dealing specifically with crime issues and I think the same can be done for the rural areas, that the sheriff is the local law enforcement and the community that’s elected in a geographical area throughout the county could meet with an assigned officer who can communicate with their interests and needs and see that they’re serving correctly.

Andrea Kelly: And Sheriff Dupnik, your approach to the rural law enforcement in Pima County.

Clarence Dupnik: Well, that’s a very difficult problem to deal with because of the fact that as he points out we’re larger than some states, Connecticut being one of them and we also have a city that’s not a city, it doesn’t have a government, that’s Ajo, and we have like 40,000 people down in Green Valley. We’ve had a rural operation for a number of years. We’ve gotten vehicles and they in fact have schedules on how they deal with each of the communities in the rural areas. So I think we do a pretty darn good job in the rural community now. As far as working with border sheriffs and so forth, I was the first representative to Operation Alliance which is a federal and state organization…it was a federal and state organization created by Vice President Bush, the elder Bush and I also was the first person chosen to represent Arizona in the high intensity drug trafficking area so I have met with those people, I’ve designed programs, we have programs in operation. We are on the cutting edge in my judgment on how we deal with border enforcement.

Andrea Kelly: Next question is for you, Mr. Croteau, specifically and it deals with a case you’ve had in court earlier this year. You were arrested and convicted of criminal trespassing, reckless assault, disorderly conduct and I wanted to ask you about that situation if you could explain what was happening there.

Dave Croteau: This particular incidence was in front of the recruiter station. I was engaged with civil disobedience as I have been since the Occupy movement started a year ago and the additional arrest that I had for being in a park is related to the actions I took. I took an action on the sidewalk in front of the recruiters station with members of Veterans for Peace and the social justice groups that have been protesting in front of that recruiter office for 10 years. I addressed my questions directly to the recruiters, was never asked to leave and violate the trespassing, and like I did with the actions in Occupy movement knew the freedom of speech to address these grievances on the sidewalk and the action that day that I was arrested was accused of assaulting a recruiter, two recruiters and trespassing. The sergeants lied on the stand in the city court that I defended myself and said that they told me never to leave which violated the trespassing, I never did, also accusing me of touching them in the chest and dragging a sign across their face. Once of the counts was dropped and I failed to represent myself, I didn’t even put myself on stand so my point of view wasn’t addressed. I do have that case under appeal but I’m not unapologetic, that I’m offering an alternative to status quo, I’m running to end the war on drugs and de-criminalize the community with half of our community at rest being non-violent criminals for drug offenses, that I’m intending to be militant non-violent in my protests and I intend to address any legalities that I’m involved in in ways in which the greater good of the community can be served. I’m not just opposed against the war on drugs, I’m opposed of our war that our country’s involved in. I’m involved with communication that opens our law enforcement into full disclosure of the relationship they’ve had with Occupy Tucson, police department relations and Homeland Security within the City of Tucson. And one of the things that I would bring to the Sheriff’s Office is to de-militarize it by addressing crimes of person and crimes of property in the non-violent offenses to take a back seat to those issues. So I have been protesting, an activist in this community my entire life and I’m willing to put my civil rights on the sidewalk to protest and that’s what I did.

Andrea Kelly: And I should note that we went through court records and looked at the records for the other two candidates and we didn’t find anything notable. Anything either of you would like to add?

Mark Napier: I would just say that the job that we’re applying for, in order words what we’re asking the voters to let us take this job is the leader of an agency that employs 1500 people, it has a budget well north of $100 million, serves one million people. There’s a role for activism and there’s a role for the things that Dave does. I don’t see the congruency between that and being the leader of that agency. I don’t see those things connecting very well and I’m not sure that there’s a full realization of the responsibilities of the Pima County Sheriff. It goes far beyond your activism or your desires to make social change. There are places for that and I’m not sure the role of the sheriff is one that’s congruent with that.

Andrea Kelly: Anything you care to add?

Dave Croteau: No. I realize I’m not offering the citizens anything but what I am. I wear my heart on my sleeve and I will respect and honor the oath that both you men took and know that I’m using my rights as a human being and a citizen of Tucson to make this a better community.

Clarence Dupnik: I’ve known Dave for many years and he’s a person of high character and integrity and on that issue, I’ve been in law enforcement my whole life, almost 55 years and if you look at my record over at the Tucson Police Department where I advanced through the ranks to Major in charge of Field Operations before I left, and if you look at the agency that we took over in 1977 to this day I’ve never seen a law enforcement agency that has survived as many years as we have without one scandal, not even false accusations. I think it’s a meritorious organization, it’s full of 1500 people who are very well picked and hired and who represent their community very well. We have the fifth lowest crime rate in the state and in terms of violent crime we’re the second lowest in the state. So I think we do a pretty darn good job.

Andrea Kelly: We’ll move on to another topic and this question I’ll start with you, Sheriff Dupnik. Obviously as you recall after the January 8th shooting you were criticized for some comments you made on January 8th saying that the country was getting divided politically and you called Southern Arizona, Tucson, the Mecca of hatred and bigotry and that brought some people into the race to run against you and you were criticized for it. Were those comments appropriate for a sheriff to make?

Clarence Dupnik: Well, I think it’s a public safety issue and one of the good things about sheriffs is they can speak their mind. Chiefs of police can’t do that. When it comes to talking about guns, particularly guns on campus and so forth, the chiefs can’t talk about that but the sheriff can. And I have spoken my mind on many issues including guns and when it comes to racism and bigotry, I didn’t say Southern Arizona I think I said all of Arizona and eventually I said all of America and I think that’s really true. We have…one of the problems that I see in our society is what’s happening with TV. We have the talking heads on the right, we have the talking heads on the left and they inflame the right and they inflame the left and so everybody’s inflamed and you see what’s going on is that people are angry, they’re taught to be angry at government, they’re suspicious of government, public officials, elected officials and so forth and basically that’s what I was addressing.

Andrea Kelly: But some of the concern I think was that the comments were made before there was any really information on the case. As we know now the accused shooter Jared Lee Loughner has been diagnosed with schizophrenia and it’s not been proven that he was acting for political reasons and so I think that was some of the concern.

Clarence Dupnik: No, I don’t think that it was political at all but he was a very serious threat mentally and that was another issue that I talked about at length and something that is very sorely lacking in this country is how we deal with the mentally ill. If we had ways to deal with people that were significantly mentally ill that didn’t require us the standard of proving that they’re a danger to themselves or somebody else, we could get more people into treatment and some of these things wouldn’t happen. But Jared Loughner had picked her out because she was an elected official. He had sent her threatening letters and we knew that the first day and had gone to some of her events and was considered…afterwards we decided, we learned that in fact he was a significant threat but my point was that I think he picked her out because she was an elected official and I think that kind of thinking makes people like Jared Loughner who are vulnerable to that kind of persuasion dangerous.

Andrea Kelly: And so the role of politics in your position, you started out your answer saying it’s appropriate. In this position you can address political issues.

Clarence Dupnik: Absolutely and most of the sheriffs do. When we see a public safety issue, I think we have the responsibility to provide them with whatever information we have and opinions and experience and so forth.

Andrea Kelly: Mr. Napier, the role of politics in the position of Pima County Sheriff.

Mark Napier: I would respectfully disagree. I’ve been in law enforcement almost 30 years and I think those statements kind of shocked the conscience. That was a law enforcement briefing, that was the purpose and I think that we need to keep our sheriff’s hat on. There was a lot of things to talk about in that briefing. One of them that I might have spoken to was the inter-agency cooperation that was occurring at that scene at that very moment, that we had people from federal agencies, state agencies, municipal agencies and county agencies all working together in a very, very difficult crime scene. That was noteworthy and a thank you to those agencies would have been appropriate. I think well wishes to those people that were injured, an acknowledgement that at University Medical Center there were people struggling for their lives at that very moment and the doctors and nurses there were undergoing heroic efforts to save those lives. It isn’t a place for the airing of opinion, not at that point in time and not in a way that divides us further or inflames those very passions and that very rhetoric which you were denouncing at that time. I just don’t see that. When I look out at Pima County, I don’t see a Mecca for bigots and racists. I don’t see that. I see the University of Arizona, I see the Catalina Mountains which are a beautiful place to live, I see a place that’s rich in culture and history and where people from all over the country and even all over the world settle. So I don’t see those same things and I don’t see the sheriff in this same role. There’s a difference between speaking out on public safety issues as the top law enforcement official in the county. That’s different than speaking out on political issues and I think that’s where I would divide the line. I’m not supposed to be a political pundit. I’m running to be the Sheriff of Pima County. I will speak on criminal justice issues but as far as political issues I don’t think those things should cross my office.

Andrea Kelly: And Mr. Croteau, the role of politics in the position of Pima County Sheriff.

Dave Croteau: Well, I’m running for the position that by statute is to preserve the peace and because I’m taking a very different approach to law enforcement, transforming it into peace keeping power and like many people in this community who were shocked at this shooting, this shocked the entire nation, so to suggest that the whole country focused in on this event that we can’t express ourself. Like many people in this community I actually felt proud of the comments that Sheriff Dupnik made. There was a resonance that there is a lot of political strife that we have in the country and I think it reflected in his words and since he is the sheriff, holding to no boss but the citizens and for the sheriff to reflect the feelings of the citizens in such a tragic time I think was very appropriate.

Mark Napier: I have to jump in there. I don’t buy that. When the community is down, and as it was, this was an unbelievable tragedy. Everybody was hurting, we’d had the assassination…attempted assassination of a member of Congress, this is a high profile event for our community and I don’t think it is a time to denigrate our community by espousing this type of rhetoric. I just don’t see that in a law enforcement briefing at all. Now whether or not you agree with the things that our sheriff said, and I have the greatest respect for this man, I do. Whether or not you agree with those things that he said is largely irrelevant. What I would argue, it was not the place nor the time or the venue for the airing of those things. That’s not the place, time and airing…the place to air those things and I think that was a mistake. The community was hurting and we did not need to hear that we were bad or that we were somehow contributing to this horrific act of violence.

Andrea Kelly: Anything you’d like to add?

Clarence Dupnik: Well, I think in fact what I had to say was important and we got comments, millions, from all over the country, some of them were very, very angry at me but more were very, very happy that somebody had the courage to go out and talk about things that are troubling to most Americans and that’s what I spoke of. In addition, I was very upset that day. First of all, I was on my way back from California at a law enforcement meeting when this occurred and the media I thought did a very poor job initially. For example, I got a call in my car from CNN which was on the air telling me that…what was my reaction to Gabrielle Giffords who happens to be a close personal friend of mine being assassinated and I tried to interrupt her as she’s on the air and tell her that Gabrielle Giffords was not assassinated, that she was trying to hang onto life in a very difficult situation. Finally she said it again and I said, ‘I don’t know where you got the information that she’s dead but she’s not,’ and I find out that if you track that all back it is a very interesting history and I think it was very irresponsibly handled by the media at first. But as…first of all, the things that he said about the victims and all the other things, the first responders…

Andrea Kelly: There’s about 10 seconds left.

Clarence Dupnik: Okay…I agree with and as a matter of fact I said those things and emphasized those things.

Andrea Kelly: All right. Well, thank you all three for being here. Once again in alphabetical order we have Pima County Sheriff’s candidates Dave Croteau Green party candidate, the incumbent Democrat Sheriff Clarence Dupnik and Republican Mark Napier. Thank you. You can get more news and information on our website azpm.org/yourvote. Coming up tomorrow night, in addition to electing candidates for political offices voters will also get to decide on a number of propositions in Arizona. We’ll cover these topics throughout the rest of the week. I’m Andrea Kelly. From all of us at Arizona Public Media, have a great night.

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