Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik has tapped the head of his Investigations Bureau to be his second in command, starting next week.

The promotion of Investigations Bureau Chief Chris Nanos marks the first time since 2002 that the position of chief deputy has been filled. He will be paid $163,808.

The 78-year-old Dupnik, who still sits in daily staff meetings, said recent retirements, as well as several more planned for the next two years, necessitated the promotion.

The department has seen two of its four chiefs retire in the past year, with another on track to retire in the near future.

“Filling the chief deputy vacancy will ensure continuity and stability in the organization as we go through this period of leadership transition,” Dupnik said. “I can think of no one more qualified to take on the challenges of this role.”

As the chief deputy, Nanos will be responsible for the entire 1,500-member department and will report directly to Dupnik.

Although Dupnik has no immediate plans to retire, he wants to make sure the department has strong candidates for replacements.

“At some point I am going to be going, and I wanted to make sure there is some highly trained people at the top of this organization who may be inclined to run for sheriff when the sheriff is no longer here,” Dupnik said.

Part of Nanos’ job, Dupnik said, will be rebuilding the organization after losing a number of high-ranking officers.

“One of my jobs, or my tasks, will be mentoring,” Nanos said Thursday.

Nanos has served in each of the department’s four bureaus as he rose through the ranks over the last three decades. He was hired in 1984, starting as a corrections officer before taking a job later that year as a deputy.

He brings nearly 40 years of law-enforcement experience to his new role, with a strong emphasis in criminal investigations, particularly in violent crimes and narcotics.

Born and raised in El Paso, Nanos majored in public administration at the University of Texas at El Paso.

Nanos has received repeated recognition for his dedication and community work, including volunteering for Special Olympics, working with homeowner associations and neighborhood groups, and serving as a past board member for the Southern Arizona Child Advocacy Center.

Nanos, despite having 30 years of experience, said he isn’t thinking about retiring.

“My head has all these thoughts about what I want to do,” Nanos said. “I am humbled, blessed and nervous all in one.”

He concedes he has a steep learning curve ahead of him, noting there are departments he hasn’t been directly involved with in a number of years.

Nanos sees himself as a police officer, not a politician. But he doesn’t rule out the possibility he might one day run for sheriff — but only if it isn’t against Dupnik.

“If he was to ever to leave or step aside, absolutely I would," Nanos said. "I would be honored just to even be considered.”

Contact reporter Joe Ferguson at jferguson@azstarnet.com or 573-4346. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFerguson.