March 11, 2005
Gov. Janet Napolitano’s nationwide search for a new director of the Arizona Department of Public Safety led right back home to Pinal County Sheriff Roger Vanderpool.
Napolitano said Thursday she selected Vanderpool to replace Dennis Garrett as head of the state law enforcement agency. Garrett retired in December. If confirmed by the state Senate, Vanderpool would be the first elected sheriff to serve as DPS director.
But he would return to a department he knows well. Vanderpool served for 20 years with DPS, rising to the rank of lieutenant with the patrol division in Casa Grande and later serving as an organized crime investigator. He was first elected sheriff in Pinal County in 2000, overseeing a $20 million budget and 350 employees.
Vanderpool was among 100 candidates from across the country reviewed by a special search committee.
The sheriff was rushed to several meetings Thursday afternoon with Senate leaders as the Napolitano administration pushed for his quick approval. In a quick interview, Vanderpool said he will seek better cooperation between DPS, other law enforcement agencies and the public.
"I see the department as a very good agency, very fine people, but somewhat like an island," Vanderpool said. "I want to bring it back and reattach it to the state."
Vanderpool was the second choice of members from two statewide law enforcement associations that interviewed the three finalists. He is a Democrat and longtime Napolitano ally.
"I heard from a number of troops that they would really like someone who was already familiar with the agency," Napolitano said. "But he’s also someone from outside the agency and he hasn’t been there for a while. I think he will come in and take an objective look at where we are and make the changes that need to be made and push the agency forward."