A retired Tucson Police Department captain with nearly three decades of experience in law enforcement will face longtime Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik in November's sheriff's election.

The Republican challenger, Mark Napier, 50, is now the associate director of operations for the University of Arizona's Parking & Transportation Service. He also is a lead facilitator for Boston University's online criminal justice program.

He saw the opportunity to run for sheriff as a chance to return to the field in which he spent 28 years.

Unofficial results show Napier picked up 43 percent of the Republican Party votes, beating out other sheriff's candidates Terry Frederick, Vinson Holck, Chester Manning and Walt Setzer in Tuesday's primary election.

Dupnik, 76, is seeking his ninth term as sheriff and was the only Democratic candidate in the primary.

Green Party candidate Dave Croteau also ran unopposed in the primary.

Napier spent the bulk of his career with TPD before retiring from the department in 2008.

During his 21 years with the department, Napier served in various assignments, including as a patrol officer, DUI officer, basic-training sergeant, internal auditor, economic-crimes commander, and patrol commander. "I held virtually every type of assignment," he said. "I have a very well-rounded professional background."

In his supervisory roles, at TPD and later with the Glendale Police Department, where he worked for a year after retirement, Napier helped oversee multimillion-dollar budgets and large staffs, he said.

Dupnik has served as Pima County's sheriff since 1980, and he's spent more than 50 years in law enforcement.

"It has been a tremendous privilege and honor to me to have been given the opportunity to serve this community in the capacity that I have," he said. "I still love my job. I still love coming to work."

If re-elected, Dupnik said he plans to continue to ensure the department runs in tiptop shape.

"When I came here, this organization was a mess; it was a national disgrace," Dupnik said. "We have worked diligently to make this a first-class, professional law-enforcement agency, and I'm very proud of it."

Dupnik is looking forward to seeing the implementation of the Pima County Wireless Integrated Network, a system that will allow 30 public-safety agencies to be able to communicate with each other and better collaborate on major disasters and incidents. He'd also like to expand the department's Directed Patrol Program - where deputies are assigned specifically to identify serial criminals - to include officers from all agencies in the county.

"If the economy begins to improve, one of the things I have high on my priority would be the creation of a squad of people from every law-enforcement agency … that would do nothing but put serial criminals in jail," Dupnik said. "We do that on a very small scale now, and it works effectively. If we could do that on a large scale, we could have dramatic impact on crime, especially violent crime."

If elected, Napier said he would bring visibility to the department that he says has been lacking for years. He also plans to evaluate the department's budget and look for better ways to spend money and increase morale among the jail staff.

"I saw that we needed a visible, engaged, effective leader in the role of sheriff in Pima County that we just didn't have," he said.

He plans to meet with various community organizations, nonprofits and businesses on a regular basis and engage them in discussions about public-safety issues, he said. Napier also wants to reach out to other Southern Arizona law-enforcement agencies to help come up with strategies to fight crime.

Napier said he's spoken with several corrections officers who feel "disenfranchised" and disconnected from the department. He would like to develop a career-path program for corrections officers to become deputies to help boost morale.

Though he hasn't seen a detailed breakdown of the Sheriff's Department budget, Napier said he'll look at each dollar spent to ensure it's being used in the most effective way.

In recent years, the economy has forced the department to cut programs to ensure the department is meeting its primary responsibility of responding to emergency calls, Dupnik said. For the last two fiscal years, the department has had a balanced budget, he said.

The department has 1,500 employees and a budget of nearly $120 million.

"Our budget is one that is very, very difficult to control because of the jail - we don't have any control over the population or very labor-intensive events like the fires we had on Mount Lemmon that went on for months," he said.

Contact reporter Veronica Cruz at vcruz@azstarnet.com or 573-4224.