Arizona DPS Maj. Jenna Mitchell to become next head of Highway Patrol
PHOENIX — Arizona Department of Public Safety Maj. Jenna Mitchell will become the next head of the Highway Patrol Division, the department announced Wednesday.
Mitchell, who grew up in Casa Grande and has worked for the department for 26 years, will be promoted Saturday to become the second female lieutenant colonel in department history and the first female to lead the patrol.
“My parents always told me that I could do anything I could set my mind to, and I believed them,” Mitchell told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Bruce St. James & Pamela Hughes Show.
“I worked hard, and I had the support of amazing mentors throughout my career and throughout my life, and that’s really led to my success.”
Mitchell will lead a staff of 750 at the Highway Patrol Division, which conducts 500,000 traffic stops and arrests over 13,000 people each year, according to a DPS press release.
Director Col. Frank Milstead told Bruce & Pamela that recruiting women to DPS is difficult because positions sometimes require relocation to rural areas.
Milstead said the sworn population of DPS is about 5 or 6% female right now, while the Phoenix or Mesa police departments hover around 11-13%.
“Sending people to remote locations away from their family, away from their comfort zone, that creates a challenge. Jenna somehow has been able to navigate at the highest level,” Milstead said.
“She has worked her way up from just being a trooper out working patrol, worked all kinds of difficult assignments while she raised a family.”
Mitchell, a mom of four, said it’s an “honor” to be named to her new role.
“When I started my career 26 years ago, I never could have imagined that I’d be appointed to lieutenant colonel,” she said.