South Tucson Public Safety Director/Police Chief Manuel Amado

Native Tucsonan Manuel Amado, a 28-year veteran in law enforcement, is South Tucson’s new public safety director/police chief, who also will oversee the city’s fire department, officials announced Tuesday.

Amado began his duties Sunday and will earn a yearly salary of $66,955, said City Manager Sixto Molina. South Tucson covers one square mile.

“I look forward to serving my community as public safety director and creating a safe and enjoyable environment for its citizens and visitors, as well as serving the fine men and women of the police and fire departments,” Amado said in a news release.

“I also look forward to being a part of city leadership and contributing to the successes of which I have no doubt that South Tucson will accomplish in the coming years,” he said.

The police department has 19 commissioned officers and four civilian employees. Its annual budget is $1.7 million, said Lourdes Aguirre, the city’s finance director.

The fire department has 36 firefighters of which three are full-time and 33 are part-time employees. Its annual budget is $677,103, Aguirre said.

Amado’s law enforcement career includes his most recent position as director of campus and public safety/emergency manager for Regis University, a private Jesuit university in Denver.

He also worked 19 years as an officer climbing the ranks to chief of police/director of public safety for Pima Community College. Before he was hired by the college, he worked for the Pima County Sheriff’s Department as a deputy stationed in Ajo, and then in Tucson as a traffic investigator and in DUI enforcement. He also worked for the South Tucson Police Department in patrol and as a traffic unit supervisor.

Amado grew up in the Las Vistas neighborhood, circled by East 36th Street, South Country Club Road, East Ajo Way and South Campbell Avenue from north, east, south and west.

He attended St. John’s Catholic School, Utterback Middle School and graduated from Pueblo High School. Amado received a master’s of education in educational psychology from Northern Arizona University and a bachelor’s in organizational leadership from Mountain State University. He also was an adjunct faculty member in public administration studies for NAU.

His father, also a native Tucsonan, was an electrician for nearly 40 years and was raised in Barrio Hollywood, west of downtown, and his mother immigrated from Bavispe, Sonora, to the U.S. with her family when she was 16 years old.

Contact reporter Carmen Duarte at or 573-4104. On Twitter: @cduartestar