Arizona Department of Public Safety plays crucial role across the state.
Traffic Stops. Narcotics investigations. Bomb disposal. Border security. The list goes on and on for the Arizona Department of Public Safety (DPS).
Every day, the agency’s troopers and detectives play a vital role in keeping Arizonans safe, whether it’s patrolling remote highways, investigating crimes, or providing critical aerial surveillance.
The Arizona DPS includes more than 2,000 employees, with about 1,200 sworn officers, and 800 professional or civilian staff, says Raul Garcia, a public information officer with the agency. The majority of the sworn officers are uniformed troopers, many of whom patrol our highways and are the most recognizable face of the agency. Every day, these troopers are called on to do everything from traffic enforcement, to keeping construction zones safe, to assisting motorists in need.
Beyond highway patrol, however, DPS officers have an all-encompassing range of responsibilities, and the depth of their work goes much deeper with such specialized divisions as criminal investigations and technical services.
The criminal investigations division provides statewide criminal investigations, specialized enforcement activities, and high-risk tactical response in support of other federal, state, tribal, and local agencies. Their investigative responsibilities include narcotics, organized crime, gangs and human trafficking.
The technical services division is responsible for providing scientific analysis and criminal justice support to Arizona’s criminal justice agencies. They oversee the state’s crime lab and fingerprint identification bureau.
The agency is at work day in and day out making an impact across the state. Consider this sampling of incidents:
- Troopers and detectives are called to the scene of a deadly crash in which a driver struck a motorcyclist in the north Valley. The driver is combative and uncooperative, but is ultimately taken into custody and booked on criminal charges
- A border strike force trooper conducts a traffic stop in southern Arizona and discovers multiple packages of methamphetamine and heroin. A suspect is arrested and more than 50 pounds of drugs are taken off the street.
- Detectives with the Yavapai GIITEM (Gang and Immigration Intelligence Team Enforcement Mission) work with the Cottonwood Police Department to serve a felony warrant on a suspected drug dealer. He is arrested and officers confiscate knives and drugs in his possession
- In conjunction with the SWAT team, a bomb squad was sent to Maricopa, where a suspicious package was found ticking inside a trash can outside the post office. The squad used a robot (shown in photo) to secure and detonate the device, which police say was a Bluetooth speaker. The sound was the result of a fading battery.
DPS also plays a key role in the multi-agency Arizona Fusion Center, known as the Arizona Counter Terrorism Information Center (ACTIC). The center focuses on providing intelligence and investigative and technical support to state, local, tribal and federal law enforcement agencies to bolster the country’s homeland security efforts.
Last year, DPS expanded its reach with a new initiative, a border strike force focused on drug cartels and border crime.
Several other operations round out the agency’s work. DPS runs four state crime labs to analyze and process evidence connected to cases around the state. Its aviation unit is responsible for everything from speed enforcement to surveillance to providing transportation for state officials. The agency also oversees security in and around the State Capitol.
The DPS mission is clear: To protect human life and property by enforcing state laws, deterring criminal activity, ensuring highway and public safety.
“We don’t do that alone,” Garcia says. “We do that with the help of other law enforcement agencies, governmental partners and the public.”
Story by Susie Steckner