The History of the Arizona Department of Public Safety
The first regional law enforcement effort in Arizona occurred in1901 when the territorial governor organized the “Arizona Ranger.” This small force made a strong impact on the rustling and smuggling problems of the time but was disbanded in 1909, three years before Arizona achieved statehood. Twenty-two years later, because of concern regarding the growing number of accident and unlicensed vehicles on its highways, the Arizona Highway Patrol was instituted as a branch of the Arizona Highway Department. The initial force in 1931 was limited to a superintendent, 14 patrolmen (one authorized for each county) and one desk sergeant. In 1967, the governor’s crime commission recommended creation of a department to “assemble state-law enforcement activities into a single, effective governmental unit. “Two years later, on July 1, 1969, the Arizona Department of Public Safety was officially established. It consolidated the functions and responsibilities of the Arizona Highway Patrol, the Enforcement Division of the Department of Licenses and Control, and the Narcotics Division of the Arizona Department of Law. Since 1969, the Department has been charged with additional responsibilities and has developed into a modern, comprehensive law enforcement agency. The Department enforces state laws with primary responsibility in the areas of traffic, narcotics, organized crime/racketeering, liquor and specific regulatory functions. Operational and technical assistance is provided to local and state governmental agencies and other components of the criminal justice community; services include scientific analysis, aircraft support, emergency first care, criminal information systems and statewide communications. The Department also promotes and enhances the quality of public safety through cooperative enforcement, intelligence gathering, training employees of law enforcement agencies, and increasing public awareness of criminal activities. With its main headquarters in Phoenix, the DPS employs over 1800 employees working together to serve and support the interests of public safety throughout Arizona.
Information and Photos provided by the Arizona Highway Patrol Public Information Officer