/ Modified jun 22, 2015 3:38 p.m.

Dupnik Says He Will Resign as Pima County Sheriff

Makes announcement on local radio station; Democrat has been in office 34 years, reelected 8 times.

sheriff dupnik press 9jan2010 spot Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik (right) and then FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III, at a news conference following the Jan. 8, 2011 shooting in Tucson.

Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik said Friday he will resign before the end of the year, after more than 34 years as the county's top law-enforcement officer.

A Sheriff's Department spokesman confirmed the news and said a formal announcement was being prepared.

"I plan to retire," Dupnik said on a Tucson radio program, "probably before the end of the year."

By law, the county Board of Supervisors must appoint someone to fill a sheriff's vacancy, and Dupnik said he was recommending his second in command, Chief Deputy Sheriff Chris Nanos.

The Democratic sheriff, who is 79 years old, was appointed to the position in 1980, won the seat in an election later that year and then was re-elected eight times. He is Arizona's longest serving sheriff, according to the National Sheriffs Association.

He became the focus of controversy in the wake of the Jan. 8, 2011 Tucson shooting at a congressional event, when at a news conference he blamed political vitriol for divisiveness that may have triggered the shooting.

In that instance, then U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, whom Dupnik supported, was among 19 people shot. Six of them were killed, at the hands of a young man who was mentally disturbed and since then has been confined to a prison institution.

Dupnik was a captain with the Tucson Police Department before he became sheriff.

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