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  • Petersen named assistant Administrator for Justice and Law Enforcement

    After nearly five years as Deputy Director of Human Resources, Wendy Petersen has been appointed Assistant County Administrator for Justice and Law Enforcement. 

    Petersen replaces Ellen Wheeler, who announced plans to retire at the end of 2017. Petersen

    In her new role, Petersen will oversee Public Defense Services, the County Administrator’s newly created Criminal Justice Reform unit as well as the County’s grant-funded Safety and Justice Challenge project. 

    The Safety and Justice Challenge seeks to reduce the County’s jail population of non-violent, low-level offenders, many of whom have been incarcerated for failing to appear in court following misdemeanor drug and other offenses. The Challenge also attempts to address the many underlying mental health issues frequently found among these offenders. 

    “This is good work,” Petersen said. “My team and I want to help keep people out of jail who don’t belong there or can be meaningfully rehabilitated through ways other than incarceration. This not only helps individuals overcome the issues that landed them in trouble but it helps the entire community in preventing them from becoming a drain on public resources.” 

    Petersen is a Tucson native who graduated from Tucson High School. She earned a bachelor’s degree from Washington University in St. Louis and later a law degree from the John Marshall Law School in Chicago. 

    She initially practiced law in Dallas but returned to Tucson in 1989. Petersen worked as a deputy Pima County Attorney dealing with property tax appeals, employment litigation and later as legal advisor to the Pima County Sheriff. 

    Petersen worked from 2010 to 2013 with Pinal County as a deputy County Attorney, Legal Advisor to the Pinal County Sheriff and later Director of Human Resources. She returned to Pima County in 2013 to take the job of Deputy Director of Human Resources. 

    She is married to Harlan Agnew, formerly an attorney with Pima County handling environmental issues, and has two step sons and two grandchildren. 
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