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New DPS boss Frank Milstead lays out his plan of attack for agency

PHOENIX — The new director of Arizona’s Department of Public Safety said keeping his best crime lab workers, and putting a few more dollars in their paychecks, was a top priority.

Frank Milstead has been on the job for six weeks and has laid out his chief areas of focus: besides the crime lab, he would like to see improvements to the department’s technology and morale.

Dollars have always been hard to come by for the department.

“Can we work harder and be a little leaner and pay more and work on retention?” said Milstead, who is following in his father’s footsteps. Ralph Milstead ran the department in the 1980s.

The crime lab has helped to solve big cases but has had a hard time keeping the best and brightest because it couldn’t compete on pay.

Milstead did his fair share of stealing talent while he was Mesa’s police chief.

“I stole people from the state all the time. They’re well trained and well educated. And they were underpaid. So we could give them more money,” he said.

Tackling technology would include body cameras for officers and better radio systems.

“There are gaps in the radio system. The system covers 75 percent of the 113,000 square mile state. So we’ll work with other law enforcement agencies to work on those issues.”

Boosting morale within the agency would include having better communication with officers across the state.