Arizona Department of Public Safety Director Frank Milstead will talk about issues regarding his agency.
Ted Simons: Coming up next on "Arizona Horizon," we'll speak with DPS director Frank Milstead about the state's border strike force and more.
Also tonight, how long will gas prices keep dropping in Arizona?
And we'll hear about an upcoming special performance at the Arizona Bach Festival. That's next on "Arizona Horizon."
Video: "Arizona Horizon" is made possible by contributions from the Friends of Arizona PBS, members of your PBS station. Thank you.
Ted Simons: Good evening and welcome to "Arizona Horizon," I'm Ted Simons. The Arizona Border Strike Force was formed late last year to take on a variety of border crime concerns. Here now to talk about the strike force and more is Arizona Department of Public Safety director Frank Milstead. Welcome to "Arizona Horizon."
Frank Milstead: Thank you, Ted. Thank you for having me.
Ted Simons: I want to get to the strike force for sure but for those who are new to the state or may not even know the answer to this, what is DPS?
Frank Milstead: DPS is the Department of Public Safety. It's the state police for Arizona. A lot of people come from back east had state police or state patrol. It's very similar. We have some probably increased obligations to the state. We are not just the Highway Patrol. We are state aviation, we're the state gang task force, we're state criminal and narcotics investigations. We run the counterterrorism center and we run the governor's protection detail and state training and education for law enforcement. So it's a pretty big opportunity for work around the state.
Ted Simons: Now, when you took over, there was an identity crisis within the department. Is there such a thing? Was there such a thing?
Frank Milstead: Absolutely. People didn't know what DPS was. I heard it was the Department of Public Service. People thought we were the power company. And it was on and on, this mistaken identity and what was a DPS officer and if you're a municipal police officer, you're a police officer. If you're a county sheriff, you're a deputy sheriff. And if you're a state police agency, you're troopers and that's what brought on the name change.
Ted Simons: Instead of DPS officers, you guys are now state troopers?
Frank Milstead: Correct. And that was just to rebrand the organization and really make sure that Arizona knew who we were and what we did.
Ted Simons: The report says well morale wasn't all the best. What wasn't happening and how have you tried to change that?
Frank Milstead: There were a couple of things that were pressing. One of them was they weren't getting the support or recognition. I don't think anybody was speaking for them and I know the audience has probably seen more of me on TV than they had the previous DPS director and that was by design. I wanted to make sure that everybody knew what we did and just that little piece alone changed morale because they were being recognized for the efforts that they do. You see some of these horrific collisions they investigate, you see what our state aviation does for air rescue. There are some significant pieces of police work being done, some very heroic things by ordinary people that were going unrecognized. So just that alone was able to build morale and honestly, the governor's office, the governor has taken a very big interest in public safety and he's paying attention to what's going on here and he is providing resources for us to move forward.
Ted Simons: So was it just a question of people not hearing or not knowing what you were doing?
Frank Milstead: It's partly that and, you know, we've gone through a real heavy recession. The officers that worked there have not seen a pay increase and even our professional staff in six or seven years. So those were all issues and if we can't pay you well or we can't pay you what we would like to, let's at least celebrate what we do and recognize the work that's done.
Ted Simons: Some of the work that's being done now is this Border Security Initiative. The governor mentioned this in the state of the state address, talked about the successes, over 300 arrests, 21 pounds of heroin, 194 pounds of meth, 4,400 pounds of pot, the whole nine yards. What is this all about?
Frank Milstead: The strike force is focused on two things, Ted. The first is the movement of drugs across the Arizona border into border and being the front door for heroin and methamphetamine. And the next thing is to combat the human trafficking element at the same time, where people are being moved into the state for sex, for indentured servitude, for whatever you need laborers for but it's really the trafficking of human beings.
Ted Simons: And four months now, our or five months in operation?
Frank Milstead: We have been doing pilots for the last four months and there's been no new dollars, no new staffing. We've been working with existing resources and really building a new, strong relationship with our federal partners. Our last operation that we did in Cochise County we had 14 agencies involved from the Bureau of Land Management to ATF to Homeland Security investigations, Department of Public Safety, the sheriff's office, everybody was there and participated.
Ted Simons: So what's changed?
Frank Milstead: I think it's a focus. It's leadership, and it's a focused effort, and it's an ongoing effort. This isn't a task force. This isn't something that's ad hoc that will just go on when needed. This is a 10-year commitment from the governor's office and the Department of Public Safety to really make Arizona safer and to try to keep drugs out of the hands of our kids, because once a kid tries heroin, once a kid tries methamphetamine, they almost never get off of it. You either overdose and kill yourself, you become a slave to the drug or you're forever in rehabilitation.
Ted Simons: As far as cooperation with Mexican law enforcement officials, what are you seeing?
Frank Milstead: New opportunities. I was down with the governor's chief of staff and his senior advisor. I met with my counterpart in Sonora last Monday and we walked away with some very frank and open communication and a handshake agreement that we are going to continue to help them learn how to better manage crime scenes, how to do more interdiction, and then to protect their officers from the cartels when they're doing interdictions so they're not victims of the cartels. They are trying to change the overall view of Mexican law enforcement and root out corruption so we're going to train them in internal affairs investigations, and I think the big piece really is that they're what they call their c5, their communications center and our Arizona counterterrorism information center can start to communicate and hopefully, down the road actually share intelligence and information without risking the lives of our officers.
Ted Simons: I was going to say how much intelligence can and should be shared?
Frank Milstead: It will have to be partitioned and it will have to start small as we build trust. With trust you build efficiency, with relationships you build efficiency. But it is a very precarious situation.
Ted Simons: Is it getting better?
Frank Milstead: It is actually -- well, I think it can. I don't know if it is better. We already have detectives working at the line level, talking and sharing what goes on. Last Tuesday night one of my troopers stopped 26,000 rounds of rifle ammunition heading south across the border. I took that piece of information just to start the dialogue and I shared it with my counterpart, the Secretary of Public Safety down there. I'm letting him know what we're seeing and I'm hoping we're going to see that come back.
Ted Simons: And as far as the information that you get and the cooperation that you get, the strike force has to improve. Is there a timeline on the strike force?
Frank Milstead: What we're waiting for is tomorrow the governor will release his budget proposal and we'll see what kind of dollars he's proposing to the legislature. Once that's been proposed and the legislature makes their final negotiations with the governor's office, we will start to hire additional staffing. We will try to find assets to move this thing forward.
Ted Simons: What are you looking for from that budget tomorrow?
Frank Milstead: I'm hoping it increases a little bit. I would like to see the ability for the first year for us to hire maybe 50 or 60 new people and also have money to help the sheriff's departments on the border hire, as well.
Ted Simons: We'll see what happens tomorrow. It's good to have you here, thanks for joining us.
Frank Milstead: Absolutely, it's a pleasure to be here, thanks for thinking about us.
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Ted Simons: Gas prices in Arizona continue to play touch-and-go with $2 per gallon, but how long can this reprieve at the pumps last? Here with the answer is Michelle Donati-Grayman from AAA Arizona. Good to see you again.
Michelle Donati-Grayman: Good to see you, too.
Ted Simons: Where are we now with gas prices?
Michelle Donati-Grayman: Gas prices today are at $1.95 per gallon in the state so in terms of metro regions, Tucson is at the low end with $1.75, Flagstaff is at the high end with $2.14, and then Phoenix is almost in the middle with an average today about $1.91 per gallon.
Ted Simons: And that is the lowest in how long?
Michelle Donati-Grayman: So gas prices are at the lowest point since 2009. So if you look at 2015 fuel prices, the average price for the year was $2.39 per gallon. So that's 87 cents less than it was in 2014. In terms of the impact to spending, that means that Arizonans saved about $670 on their gas spending in 2015 compared to 2014. And it was the first year since 2010 that prices didn't go over the $3 mark.
Ted Simons: And you mentioned Tucson with the lowest prices, Flagstaff with the most. Is that because of the proximity to pipelines?
Michelle Donati-Grayman: It is. A lot of it has to do with that and there's that pipeline that comes into Tucson that delivers most of that fuel to Tucson. There isn't a pipeline that goes to Flagstaff so there's that added transportation cost to get fuel delivered to that area.
Ted Simons: How do we compare to the rest of the country?
Michelle Donati-Grayman: We're right in the middle when it comes to how we stack up to the rest of the country. We're a couple of cents above the national average but there's 36 states today paying under $2 per gallon and Arizona is one of those states and we've been one of those states for the last several weeks.
Ted Simons: So why is this happening? Why are these prices so oil?
Michelle Donati-Grayman: Crude oil is the biggest factor at play right now. The commodity fell to a 12-year low. We went below $30 per gallon, albeit very briefly. That was a huge moment this week. It's starting to fuel a ton of speculation. There was speculation that gas prices could go as low as $1 per gallon. We don't believe prices will shed another 95 cents in the case of Arizona or 93 cents in the case of the national average but it's fueling a lot of speculation.
Ted Simons: What's going on? Saudi Arabia and Iran are at each other's throats, you would figure instability there should do something to the marketplace. And also, the Saudis may be flooding the market with oil trying to drive American companies out of business. What's happening out there?
Michelle Donati-Grayman: Right now, there's an oversupply of oil. There's a glut of oil. You have turmoil going on in other country, impacting economies in other countries that's playing into the market, as well. So there's a ton at play. In terms of the geopolitical tensions, as you mentioned, if those tensions were taking place several years ago, we could be seeing a very different picture in terms of the impact that those situations are having on the market, but the market has started to get used to these tensions that really are always there, but until they actually fester and something comes out of them, it doesn't necessarily react the way that it used to.
Ted Simons: All bets would still be off if some sort of war erupted there?
Michelle Donati-Grayman: Any unforeseen circumstances, there's just a ton of uncertainty and really in terms of what took place in 2015, uncertainty was huge, it's going to continue to be huge this year. Nobody really knows what's going to happen with the price of oil. You have analysts on one side who say prices are going to rebound to the $60 range this year, you have other analysts who say prices are going to drop to $20 a barrel. Nobody really knows the answer, but the fact remains that oil does remain a very big part of the cost of gasoline. So for every $1 movement in the price of oil, it's 2.4 cents in the price of gasoline. If the price of oil goes lower, the price of fuel will, as well.
Ted Simons: In the springtime it seems like prices hike, summer driving season, are we expecting that?
Michelle Donati-Grayman: Historically, we'll continue to see the seasonal trends take place. We're approaching a time of year where refineries are going to undergo the maintenances. It's not uncommon for prices to increase as much as 50 cents during the spring, stay high during the summer, but the good news is that we are starting the increase which we haven't yet started but we will be starting the increase this year at a lower point compared to last year so we could be looking at another year without going over that $3 mark in Arizona and nationwide.
Ted Simons: As long as things are stable in the Middle East and as long as we have stability in the refineries in America.
Michelle Donati-Grayman: That's true and hurricane season as well, that's always a big question mark. But barring unforeseen circumstances, we may have another year without breaching that $3 mark.
Ted Simons: I think we're all for that. Good to have you here. Encouraging news and thanks for joining us. We appreciate it.
Michelle Donati-Grayman: Thanks for having me.
Ted Simons: Tonight's edition of Arizona Artbeat looks at the Arizona Bach festival and an upcoming staged performance of Bach's the Passion according To St. John. [ Singing ]
Here now with more on the performance is Scott Youngs, the Arizona Bach festival's artistic director. Good to see you, thanks for joining us.
Scott Youngs: Wonderful thank you, I appreciate it.
Ted Simons: Before we go any further, what was that thing that person was playing? What is that instrument?
Scott Youngs: That is a theorbo, sometimes called an arched lute. It is part of the lute family, it happens to be a very large and elegant one.
Ted Simons: It sure is and it makes a beautiful sound as everything we just heard was beautiful. We'll get to this in a second. The Arizona Bach festival. What is it?
Scott Youngs: An annual series of Bach concerts. Every January we offer somewhere between three and five concerts. They range from individual solo recitals, such as next week's violin recital to large works. The b minor mass that was one year, the Easter oratorio, the Christmas oratorio, large works. Tomorrow's performance is the St. John.
Ted Simons: What is the Passion according to St. John?
Scott Youngs: Bach had just arrived in Leipzig and he was proving himself. This was his crowning achievement for the year in addition to all of his cantata cycles. So he is actually slipping in some of this musical content under the noses of the clergy who weren't quite expecting something as dramatic as they ended up with. So on Good Friday, they would normally tell the passion story. The crucifixion of Christ as a part of their service. And traditionally it had been sung as a very simple chanted version. So Bach, being the bad boy, took that simple version of chant-based Biblical story as the foundation and he added two other layers to it. He added a whole layer of solos that made commentary on the action as if they were bystanders. Another layer was the chorale tunes, that would have been so much a part of the Lutheran service at the time, the familiar intrinsic part of their faith that they would have resonated with immediately.
Ted Simons: So we have singers in front of the main choir and the orchestra, there's a small chorus, I think it takes the part of the crowd. When you say this is a staged performance, what does that mean and what is it as opposed to?
Scott Youngs: This would have been presented as an oratorio, which is the way we see it now, it is a choir and the orchestra and soloists, they're dressed in black and white, they stand, they sing. They don't move. You have to infer any emotion from only the music. And we decided that we would like to use a slightly different lens and separate those three groups, the major storyline and the commentary and the hymns, by having people free to move. We are actually dressing them, the Biblical story, in a simple tunic and sort of a garb that might be common, the chorale tune are dressed in black as if they are the bulk of humankind and the soloists come to us in normal concert attire that we would expect nowadays as commenting on what's taking place.
Ted Simons: So are they actually doing -- is this like a sacred opera? Are they doing this and they're going here and they're holding things or is it still more oratorio?
Scott Youngs: It is being presented with movement so you could call it opera-like. It is limited in that the demands on the singers are enormous. The skill level required of the soloists is exceptional for this piece, which is one of the reasons that it makes it such a glorious work to hear. The soloists are spectacular. They come from Chicago. Two of them are from here, the snippet that you played is Karen Knudsen, one of our local stars, she's a fabulous alto here along with the theorbo player and the cello and the organist.
Ted Simons: You mentioned the demands on the singers. What kind of demands when it comes to just putting this kind of a production on?
Scott Youngs: It's kind of a three-ring circus. There's a certain amount of chaos as you would expect in addition to all the musical forces which are doing their work. There's the stage director and there's a lighting director, as well. And so there's a tremendous amount of activity that's going on. We won't see until tonight at the dress rehearsal everyone's finished product. I can't wait!
Ted Simons: I bet you can't. You described very well what Bach was trying to do and how he wanted to change things up and what you're going to see on stage and hear. But for someone who's new to classical music, new to this kind of performance, sacred works and such, they want to go to this, they're curious, they're going to be sitting down there. What do they look for? What do they listen for?
Scott Youngs: You would not be disappointed coming from any background. Almost all of us know the storyline, the basic crucifixion story of Christ. That is told by the evangelist who narrates, which is Eric Gustafson, he's the narrator, he sings the story, the actual Biblical story.
Ted Simons: Stop right there. Is this all in German?
Scott Youngs: It is sung in German but we have supertitles that are showing you the translation as we go through. We did not even print the text in the program this year specifically so that 300 pages didn't turn at the same time.
Ted Simons: And everyone's got their head like that.
Scott Youngs: Exactly.
Ted Simons: So you sit there, you watch, you read, you get what?
Scott Youngs: If you can imagine the beginning, the opening of a musical or an opera, you get that overture sense. When this starts, you get that same overture beginning, the strings start that undulating g minor beginning of the Passion, and it's almost visceral. You know that something is coming. He's setting you up, Bach is setting you up and instead of the grim what you expect to hear, knowing that it's the passion story, what you're given suddenly is this enormous burst of choral music that comes out. It's a huge song, suddenly of praise and rejoicing that leads you into the storyline and the storyline takes you all the way down. It's like sitting in a movie with the best musical score in the world, it comes all the way to the depths, it is finished just as Jesus dies, and then it starts, the pendulum swings back up to the hope, the eternal salvation, the gift on the end. So it's a journey. It's quite an experience. You can sit there, there's no intermission, we go straight through, you will feel like you've just experienced a story, a musical experience with gorgeous score and voices and orchestra and it's a storyline that we're familiar with.
Ted Simons: Well, it sounds like a tremendous effort and best of luck on this performance. First stage performance in Arizona.
Scott Youngs: First one.
Ted Simons: Well, good luck on that. Thank you so much for being here. We certainly appreciate it.
Scott Youngs: My pleasure thank you, that's tomorrow night.
Ted Simons: Sounds good.
Friday on "Arizona Horizon", it's the Journalists' Roundtable. The governor releases his budget on Friday, we'll crunch the available numbers. And we'll see just how those numbers correspond with what the governor had to say in his state of the state address. That's on the next Journalists' Roundtable. And that is it for now. I'm Ted Simons. Thank you so much for joining us. You have a great evening.
Video: "Arizona Horizon" is made possible by contributions from the Friends of Arizona PBS, members of your PBS station. Thank you.
Arizona Artbeat is made possible in part by the Flynn foundation, supporting the advancement of arts and culture in Arizona.
In this segment:
Frank Milstead:Arizona Department of Public Safety Director
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