Over 15 Arizona State agencies have sworn officers who carry weapons

Posted at 6:59 PM, Dec 05, 2016
and last updated 2016-12-05 20:59:48-05

Arizona's Department of Economic Security amassed about 50 guns and 80-thousand rounds of ammunition for its own security force, but the agency is not alone.

According to Governor Doug Ducey's office, at least 15 state agencies also have sworn officers.

These agencies include:

  • Department of Transportation
  • Game and Fish Department
  • Department of Corrections
  • State Parks Board
  • Department of Gaming
  • Department of Economic Security
  • Department of Liquor Licenses and Control
  • Department of Agriculture
  • Department of Insurance
  • Department of Revenue
  • Department of Juvenile Corrections
  • Board of Behavioral Health Examiners
  • Department of Health Services
  • Radiation Regulatory Agency
  • Corporation Commission

ABC15 has been checking with the agencies asking why they need police powers.

At the Corporation Commission, a spokeswoman says seven investigators look into serious crimes of securities and investment fraud. Several investigators carry weapons.

"You're talking about high-dollar figures that's involved and also very severe penalties to go along with these cases, so obviously these investigators' safety is very important," Corporation Commission spokeswoman Angie Holdsworth said.

The agency also keeps extra guns and ammunition, but it's a lot less than what DES stockpiled.

"We're talking 3,200 rounds," Holdsworth said. "That's enough to sufficiently allow our officers to be safe and have access to the equipment that we need and also to provide a little bit for training purposes.

The Department of Revenue has six sworn officers who enforce cigarette tax laws.  

ADOT has one of the largest forces with 194 officers. Most inspect commercial vehicles. Other investigate identity theft.

More than 100 Game and Fish Department wildlife managers may have the most firepower. Each is issued a pistol, a rifle and a shotgun. An agency spokesman says the weapons are for the employees' protection. They often patrol the wilderness alone looking for criminals and wild animals. Game and Fish says it also keeps unused ammunition and weapons in a locked armory.

Arizona Department of Public Safety officers seized the guns and bullets from DES Headquarters on November 23, when Director Tim Jeffries was forced to resign. According to the governor's office, DPS is running the police force at the social service agency while preparing recommendations for the agency's future security needs.