Outgoing DPS Director Col. Silbert says expectations of law enforcement are ‘unrealistic’

Jan 4, 2023, 1:00 PM | Updated: 1:15 pm
Arizona Department of Public Safety Director Col. Heston Silbert (Screenshot via Arizona Department...
Arizona Department of Public Safety Director Col. Heston Silbert (Screenshot via Arizona Department of Public Safety YouTube Channel)
(Screenshot via Arizona Department of Public Safety YouTube Channel)

PHOENIX – The outgoing director of the Arizona Department of Public Safety said he believes expectations of law enforcement responsibilities have become “unrealistic” and given officers an “impossible task.”

“I think society’s expectations of law enforcement have become absolutely unrealistic,” Director Col. Heston Silbert told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s The Mike Broomhead Show on Wednesday.

“You dial 911 and within seconds you have a professional come to your door who can handle any myriad or multitude of problems. But at times, I think we expect a law enforcement officer to have a Ph.D. in psychology and counseling and everything else. And while it seems they do sometimes, the realities of what’s asked of them has gotten to be too far-reaching.”

Silbert added that he thinks accountability has been flipped on its head.

“We’ve inverted accountability with regard to obeying laws in our society and we put it on law enforcement officers and given them an impossible task,” he said.

Silbert announced his retirement Tuesday, less than three years in the post. His departure is effective Friday.

“A new governor was elected and I think they wanted to go in a different direction and I understand and respect that process. I appreciate the manner in which Gov. [Katie] Hobbs’ people treated me in the last couple of weeks,” Silbert said.

Silbert was appointed by then-Gov. Doug Ducey and took over in April 2020. He had served as deputy director previously.

Overall, Silbert spent 34 years in law enforcement, starting with the Phoenix Police Department before he moved to the Mesa force.

He’d like to see a return to more traditional roles for officers.

“They are law enforcement officers and I think sometimes we need to get back to narrowing that focus as to who they are,” he said.

Whoever replaces him, Silbert said, “I would tell them, ‘You’ve got to make tough, risky decisions’ and I have a concern, quite frankly, in modern law enforcement right now that law enforcement leaders are shying away from that.

“I’d ask them to have some courage and stand up and represent the men and woman of the agency.”

Silbert said he wasn’t sure what his next steps will be.

“I think I’m going to take a step back and see what’s coming. I love law enforcement but I think there’s a whole lot of different things out there to explore about life.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Pass it along to the KTAR News team here.

Arizona News

(Facebook Photos)...

Here are the metro Phoenix restaurants on Yelp’s list of top 100 places to eat in 2023

A pair of metro Phoenix restaurants made Yelp's list of the top 100 places to eat in the United States in 2023.
22 hours ago
FILE -  A Goodyear tire sits on display at a tire shop on Feb. 12, 2014, in South Euclid, Ohio. A f...
Associated Press

Arizona lawyer subpoenaed in criminal investigation of Goodyear tires

A federal grand jury in Los Angeles is gathering evidence in a criminal investigation of Goodyear recreational vehicle tires.
22 hours ago
(Pixabay Photo)...

Multiple Arizona chefs, restaurants earn spots as James Beard Awards semifinalists

Arizona chefs and restaurants found a place at the table Wednesday when the James Beard Awards announced semifinalists for 2023.
22 hours ago
Nickelback (Richard Beland Photo)...

Nickelback’s Get Rollin’ Tour to stop at Footprint Center in Phoenix in July

Nickelback's 2023 Get Rollin' Tour will make a stop at Footprint Center in Phoenix on July 12.
22 hours ago
(Maricopa County Colleges Photo)...
Danny Shapiro

Former Valley professor to serve on advisory group for National Space Council

Former Valley professor Sian Proctor will advise the Biden administration on maintenance and responsibility for its space present and future.
22 hours ago
(Greg Nash/Pool via AP)...
Taylor Kinnerup

Arizona’s News Roundup: Gallego announces Senate run, prison reform ramps up

Arizona's News Roundup this week catches you up on Ruben Gallego's announced Senate run, prison reform initiatives and more.
22 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Fiesta Bowl Foundation

Celebrate 50 years of Vrbo Fiesta Bowl Parade magic!

Since its first production in the early 1970s, the Vrbo Fiesta Bowl Parade presented by Lerner & Rowe has been a staple of Valley traditions, bringing family fun and excitement to downtown Phoenix.
(Desert Institute for Spine Care photo)...

Why DISC is world renowned for back and neck pain treatments

Fifty percent of Americans and 90% of people at least 50 years old have some level of degenerative disc disease.
Children’s Cancer Network

Children’s Cancer Network celebrates cancer-fighting superheroes, raises funds during September’s Childhood Cancer Awareness Month

Jace Hyduchak was like most other kids in his kindergarten class: He loved to play basketball, dress up like his favorite superheroes and jump as high as his pint-sized body would take him on his backyard trampoline.
Outgoing DPS Director Col. Silbert says expectations of law enforcement are ‘unrealistic’