November 24, 2004
The new Arizona Department of Public Safety director named Tuesday said he will fire some administrators and work to boost agency morale and recruitment.
David Gonzales, 50, rose up through the ranks at DPS after joining the agency when he was 21, and is currently the U.S. marshal in Arizona.
Gov. Janet Napolitano announced her pick to replace outgoing director Dennis Garrett at a news conference at the agency’s Phoenix headquarters that was attended by about 300 employees of DPS and other police agencies. Gonzales will make the transition over the next few weeks, but must still be appointed by the state Senate to serve the five-year term.
It is customary for a new director to shake up the executive staff with a "housecleaning" and remake it to suit his goals and management style, Gonzales said Tuesday. He wasn’t sure exactly what those goals would be. But he hopes to convince lawmakers to spend more taxpayer money on DPS, an agency that includes the highway patrol and a crime lab used by numerous police departments, he said.
Salary for the 1,100 sworn officers at DPS trails the market by 11.7 percent while the workload has increased, according to the DPS budget request for 2006 and 2007. In the past five years, daily traffic on the highway system has grown by 7 percent annually and crime lab submissions have grown by 9 percent annually, the Sept. 1 report states. Officials estimate the highway patrol is short by at least 142 officers, but the department cannot pay adequate salaries to recruit and retain those employees.
Gonzales said he would lobby hard for higher salaries and funding to put more officers on the roads.
"Because of these shortage-of-manpower and pay issues, one of the side effects is morale issues," Gonzales said. "It affects the relationship with the public. People leave for other positions. When I came on DPS, it was unheard of for a DPS officer to leave and go to another agency."
The Flagstaff native served two years with the Coconino County Sheriff’s Office before joining DPS. He worked out of Tucson for 10 years on patrol and as a narcotics agent before moving to Phoenix in 1985. His most satisfying project was working commander of the statewide antigang task force in the late 1990s, he said.
A Republican, Gonzales retired from DPS after being appointed Arizona’s U.S. marshal by President Bush in 2001. His wife, Nancy, is a health care attorney, and he has two children, Mark, 14, and Allison, 17.
"I’ve known David for a long time," Napolitano said. "I think he has the capability to take us to a new level."