Despite complaints that he has worn the uniform of a sheriff’s deputy and carried a firearm while working, Chief Deputy Richard Kastigar of the Pima County Sheriff’s Department is not a certified peace officer, Arizona Daily Independent has confirmed.
On Feb. 16, Matt Giordano of Arizona Peace Officer Standards and Training (AZPOST) advised the agency’s board members of what he characterized as “a very unusual situation.” That situation, according to Giordano, is the fact Kastigar has been serving as Sheriff Chris Nanos’ second in command since January 2021 even though his peace officer certification lapsed in 2019.
At PCSD, the chief deputy is “responsible for the entire department’s day-to-day operations,” according to the county’s website.
The minutes of the Feb. 16 meeting reveal Giordano, AZPOST’s executive director, explained to his board the various steps taken by agency staff over the last several months to assist Kastigar in getting recertified. Those steps included conversations with Nanos and Kastigar, as well as hand delivering information about the issue to Jan Lesher, Pima County’s acting county administrator.
Giordano also noted that AZPOST only has jurisdiction over the actions of certified peace officers. Which has become problematic, he said, because AZPOST has received “several complaints” concerning Kastigar’s conduct.
Those complaints allege the chief deputy has worn a peace officer uniform, has carried a firearm, and may have even driven a vehicle with lights and siren activated. In addition, questions have been raised about whether Kastigar has been involved in “enforcement actions” as chief deputy.
However, it is possible AZPOST has no jurisdiction to investigate Kastigar’s professional conduct because he is not a certified peace officer, Giordano told the board.
Cochise County Sheriff Mark Dannels is the chairman of AZPOST. The Feb. 16 meeting minutes note he called the Kastigar situation “alarming.” Meanwhile Phoenix Police Chief Jeri Williams, who is also an AZPOST board member, expressed concern about whether Kastigar is wearing a uniform, which the public could presume means he is a certified peace officer.
The meeting minutes also show Giordano has asked Pima County officials to “circle back” to AZPOST if and when Kastigar’s certification is addressed at the county level. Giordano noted “there is still an open [compliance] case on this matter.”
Kastigar, who is in his mid-60s, began his law enforcement career with PCSD in 1977 as a detention officer in the county jail. He later became a patrol deputy, a position which requires a peace officer certification issued by AZPOST.
After working his way up to a Bureau Chief position, Kastigar retired in 2013. He later returned to PCSD as a civil employee until 2017. Then when Nanos was elected in November 2020 to his second round as Pima County Sheriff he hand-picked Kastigar as his chief deputy.
When contacted Monday evening about the Feb. 16 AZPOST discussion, Nanos said Kastigar has now completed the process to be recertified. “He is simply waiting for AZ POST to review his submittal,” Nanos said, adding that Kastigar suffered an accident last year which delayed his submission to AZPOST.
Last fall Kastigar’s right thumb was crushed in the door of his personal vehicle, leading to an amputation of the thumb above the top knuckle. A $15 million negligence lawsuit filed by Kastigar against Mercedes Benz is working its way through federal court.
This is not the first debate about AZPOST certification for a high level command staff.
When Nanos beat then-Sheriff Mark Napier in the November 2020 election it left Napier without a job. Weeks later Napier was appointed by Dannels to be his Chief of Staff at the Cochise County Sheriff’s Office.
As Chief of Staff – and not Chief Deputy – Napier’s position was not that of an active peace officer nor was he deputized. Therefore, he did not have to have an AZPOST certification even though his position put him in the chain of command over deputies.