Democratic Sheriff candidates

Kevin Kubitskey

Kevin Kubitskey loves police work but there’s a lot about it that troubles him. Kubitskey is a Democrat running for Pima County sheriff. He’s up against former Sheriff Chris Nanos in the primary.

There is no love lost between the two. As head of the union, Kubitskey was in a lot of public scrapes with Nanos. He’s also been involved in a lot of high-profile cases in Pima County and has definite ideas of what needs to change.

Kubitskey, 47, retired as a sergeant in March after 21 years. He remains in the union as a non-voting member and is finishing an undergrad degree at Grand Canyon University.

He grants that people either love him or hate him.

“Maybe because I speak out,” he says. “I think I speak out where I need to speak out and I’m not afraid to admit when I’ve got egg on my face and I am not afraid to hold people accountable for what they promise and what they say.”

What he doesn’t like is the growing suicide rate among officers and the high number of retiring officers — he calls it “profound.”

“There are more stressors coming from internal than there used to be because everybody wants to be politically correct,” he says. A lot of the pressure comes because of the failings of a few.

“Good cops hate bad cops,” he says.

Kubitskey believes good training pays off — for the community, for the taxpayer, for the deputy on the street. He’s a big believer in training people right and holding them accountable.

Other issues

•Mental illness: Social workers need to train with law enforcement officers, not just work with them on the scene. Kubitskey was the Crisis Intervention Training coordinator for three years and says advanced training should be mandatory; they don’t get enough now.

•Defund the police: “I think it’s a horrible term because it doesn’t describe what the concepts surrounding it mean. Defunding doesn’t mean you’re getting rid of or taking away police, it means you’re limiting their responsibilities that they’ve been tasked with over decades, and you’re giving it to people who are better suited for those situations.”

•Recruiting: “There’s this talk about it’s hard to recruit people, how it’s hard to get quality deputies to go through the program. That’s true and that’s because they’re already at the bottom of the barrel scraping it because nobody wants to do this job based on what’s going on, what’s happening. If you make it an appealing job and you throw money at it, you’re going to get more qualified, better people and you’re going to run into less incidents across the nation.”

He says the bar has been lowered nationally to get recruits through the door: Past drug use is not always a disqualifier and physical conditioning isn’t as stringent. “The standards have been lowered already tremendously and that’s why we’re seeing a nationwide problem with these bad apples.”

•George Floyd: He said there had been lots of issues with the Minneapolis department over the years. It’s a problem of failed leadership, and the officer shouldn’t have been on the street.

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— Dan Shearer