Here’s why former Arizona DPS Director Milstead says he’s qualified to be Maricopa County Sheriff

Mar 7, 2024, 2:00 PM

Frank Milstead and Maricopa County Sheriffs Office sign....

Former Arizona DPS Director Frank Milstead explained on March 7, 2024, why he believes he's qualified to become the next Maricopa County Sheriff. (Arizona Department of Public Safety and Maricopa County Sheriff's Office photos)

(Arizona Department of Public Safety and Maricopa County Sheriff's Office photos)

PHOENIX — With election season underway, former Arizona Department of Public Safety Director Frank Milstead explained Thursday why he believes he’s more than qualified to become the next Maricopa County Sheriff.

Milstead joined KTAR News 92.3 FM’s The Mike Broomhead Show, a day after announcing he filed a statement of interest for the position.

He started his law enforcement career at the Phoenix Police Department in 1985 and served there for 25 years before becoming Mesa Police Department’s police chief in 2010. Five years later, he was appointed as director of Arizona DPS. He retired in 2020.

“I’ve actually had some time to take a breath. I was at the top of the food chain for 10-11 years, and I’ve had time to think about what I want to do,” Milstead said. “And I have a lot left to give.”

Here’s what Milstead says about his purpose for running

Aside from decades of experience, Milstead said he’s confident he has the ability to bring a level of trust along with the job.

“I have an impeccable history of success at the leadership level, and I see the need for leadership at the sheriff’s department,” he said.

The former DPS director said by and large, Fourth Avenue Jail is the most unique part of the job.

“I have never run a jail, and I think the jail is kind of an interesting piece of the equation because if you think about the jail as its own entity, it is actually an incredible piece of information for the entire country,” he said.

“It’s a systemic piece of what goes on, so you know what crime are being committed because all the major cities book into the Maricopa County Jail.”

He also said he thinks he can bridge the gap between the Phoenix Police Department and the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division. The division has been investigating the department’s use-of-force practice since a probe launched in 2021.

“I have turned cultures around with my team in 12 months, (and) two years. We change an entire culture, and you can’t legislate world class police service. You can’t legislate good police behavior. It has to be from the leadership team and has to be from management,” Milstead said.

“It has to be what the department expects from the women and men that do the job.”

As for other issues, he said federal partnerships are paramount to success, as he’s experienced while working with Arizona DPS.

“Right now, the county is being overrun with youth crime … It’s being overrun with the migrants coming in and committing petty offenses, and everyone seems to think that’s an anomaly,” he said.

Milstead moves forward from past allegations

Regarding domestic violence allegations, reported by ABC15, from his former partner that arose in 2022, Milstead said they’ve both resolved any issues.

“The issue that happened in 2022 with the order of protection was a very emotional time for both me and her,” he said. “It was a very emotional time for both me and her. She is a very good person that I have nothing negative to say about.”

Who’s currently the acting sheriff at MCSO?

Russ Skinner was appointed to serve as interim sheriff in early February after former sheriff Paul Penzone’s resignation went into effect in early January. He was previously a Republican but registered as a Democrat for the role.

The person appointed as interim sheriff was required under state law to live in Maricopa County and, like Penzone, be registered as a Democrat.

Skinner’s appointment was approved by a 4-1 vote, with Supervisor Steve Gallardo, the only Democrat on the board, opposing the pick.

Penzone stepped down with nearly a year left in his second term to take a community relations job with Blue Cross Blue Shield.

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Here’s why former Arizona DPS Director Milstead says he’s qualified to be Maricopa County Sheriff