Iowa State Patrol

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Iowa State Patrol
Patch of the Iowa State Patrol.png
Flag of Iowa
Flag of Iowa
MottoCourtesy, Service, Protection.
Agency overview
Preceding agencies
  • Iowa Highway Safety Patrol
  • Iowa Highway Patrol
Employees485 (as of 2004)[1]
Jurisdictional structure
Operations jurisdictionIowa, USA
IA - State Patrol Districts.png
Iowa State Patrol Districts
Size56,272 square miles (145,700 km2)
Population2,988,046 (2007 est.)[2]
General nature
Operational structure
HeadquartersDes Moines, Iowa
Troopers355 (as of 2012)[1]
Civilians96 (as of 2004)[1]
Agency executive
  • Colonel Nathan A. Fulk, Colonel
Parent agencyIowa Department of Public Safety
DistrictsPost 16

The Iowa State Patrol (ISP) is the state police organization in the state of Iowa. Currently, there are just over 267 officers in the patrol, roughly 183 troopers short of their authorized strength of 455.[3] State Troopers are responsible for patrolling over 112,000 miles (180,000 km) of roadways in the state. The State is broken into 16 Districts. Their primary concern is enforcing motor vehicle laws, but they also assist with other incidents. These include riots, prison disturbances, labor related disturbances, and providing security at sporting events. The Iowa State Patrol falls under the jurisdiction of the Iowa Department of Public Safety, which also runs the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation, also known as DCI.


The State Patrol was created in 1935 (as the Iowa Highway Safety Patrol), after an act creating the Patrol was passed by the legislature and signed by the Governor. Initially the patrol was composed of 50 men.[4] Later that same year, the word Safety was dropped from the name, and the unit became known simply as the Iowa Highway Patrol. In 1972, the word "Patrolman" was replaced with "Trooper", and in 1975, the name had changed again to reflect the change that Iowans felt was needed; the Iowa Highway Patrol became known as the Iowa State Patrol. The change was quickly reflected by the difference in the uniform shoulder patches, and by the wording of the logos on the car doors.

In 1936, Oran H. Pape became the first Iowa State Trooper to die in the line of duty, and remains to date the only member of the Patrol to be murdered in the line of duty. Trooper Pape's murder started the custom of wearing your sidearm on the side opposite of your strong arm. This procedure, called "Cross drawing," would continue with the Patrol until the early 2000s.

In the early days of the Patrol, cars were painted black, with the State Patrol logo on the front doors. In the 1970s, the cars were repainted white, with the logo on the front doors. By the early 1980s, Patrol vehicles had a light tan color with the Iowa State Patrol logo on the sides of the vehicle. In 1998, the Patrol switched to a black and gold color scheme on their vehicles. Blue warning lighta began to appear on vehicles beginning in 1999, also. The vehicle color scheme change was not particularly well received, however, with some critics feeling that the new color scheme had turned Patrol cars into moving advertisements for the University of Iowa's Hawkeye sports teams. The Patrol later switched back to the prior color scheme in 2001; however, the 2007 and newer patrol vehicles have been predominantly colored silver or white. The Patrol has mainly used the Ford Crown Victoria Police Interceptor for a number of years. Prior to Chevrolet eliminating the model, Caprices were used as well quite extensively. Recently the Patrol has begun using the Dodge Charger (LX) Police Pursuit Version as well. For a short time, the Patrol also had motorcycle officers until the early 1980s due to the neglect, and later, lack of interest of a motorcycle division within the Patrol. The Patrol also uses several small airplanes for use as air traffic patrol, and to locate suspects fleeing on foot, into the wooded areas, and farm fields of rural Iowa.


The uniform of the Iowa State Patrol consists of a chocolate brown shirt with tan epaulets, tan trousers with a black stripe, and black shoes. The campaign hat that is worn by all Troopers is modeled after the hats worn by Army Drill Sergeants and Marine Corps Drill Instructors, and is chocolate brown. The winter version of the uniform includes a Black 5.11 Tactical winter coat; the standard short sleeve shirt is replaced with a long sleeve wool serge shirt, and a tan wool necktie. The uniforms of the Special Tactical Division are simple BDU style uniforms, in Olive Drab Green with the patches in Olive Drab and black. The badge of the State Patrol has changed many times over the years, but the current badge is a simple shield surmounted by an eagle design, with black enameled ribbons. The badges are gold plated for all ranks. In the center of the badge, the state seal is prominent, and for all ranks below Sergeant, the upper badge ribbon simply reads "TROOPER," or "OFFICER," if they are assigned to the Capitol Police Division. Rank devices for Sergeants are sewn onto the sleeves, and all ranks Sergeant and above wear pinned collar insignia. In inclement weather, the Troopers are usually equipped with full rain gear, including rubber pants, and knee length rain slickers, and, on cool nights, when the 5.11 winter coat would be too much, an optional light weight 5.11 Spring Jacket is available.

Rank Structure[edit]

The Iowa State Patrol uses a paramilitary style ranking structure. The "Chief" of the Iowa State Patrol holds the rank of Colonel. The Colonel is appointed by the Commissioner of the Iowa Department of Public Safety and handles top-level administration work for the department on top of being a fully sworn and certified peace officer with the Iowa State Patrol. In the Iowa State Patrol, the rank of Colonel is represented by a set of silver eagles clutching a cluster of arrows and is worn on the collar of the uniform.

The Iowa State Patrol is authorized two Major positions, with both Majors serving in the headquarters district. The rank of Major is represented by a set of gold oak leaves worn on the collar of the uniform.

Captains generally serve as area commanders or supervisors for a specific role. An area is usually made up of several "posts" or "districts" which makes up the area of patrol for troopers assigned to that geographical location. The rank of Captain is represented by a set of dual, vertical silver bars worn on the collar of the uniform.

Lieutenants usually serve as district commanders, putting them in charge of the Sergeants and Troopers assigned to that district. A district is usually made up of several counties. The rank of Lieutenant is represented by a set of single silver bars worn on the collar of the uniform as well as a set of gold braids for their uniform campaign hat.

Sergeants serve as assistant district commanders and are generally considered field-level supervision. The position of Sergeant is the lowest, yet arguably the most critical, level of supervision. Sergeants perform a mixture of both office and patrol duties. The rank of Sergeant in the Iowa State Patrol is displayed with an insignia consisting of three stripes and two rockers with a diamond in the center (similar to the United States Army rank of First Sergeant from 1935). This is displayed by a set of metal pins worn on the collar of his or her uniform shirt on the summer uniform, and worn on both sleeves in the form of a sewn-on patch during the winter uniform seasons. A set of gold and black braids are displayed on their uniform campaign hat.

Trooper III's, or "Senior Troopers" are troopers who have had a substantial amount of time with the Iowa State Patrol. Although they are not supervisors, their experience with the patrol makes them stand out as leaders among other troopers. Senior Troopers wear no special insignia, however they are granted a special set of silver and black braids for their uniform campaign hat to signify their time and dedication to the State Patrol.

Trooper II's are standard peace officers with the Iowa State Patrol. Trooper II's are responsible for patrolling all areas they are assigned to and make up the majority of the Iowa State Patrol's Numbers. You must be at least 22 years of age and hold a road patrol position to be a Trooper II. There is no rank insignia for a Trooper II.

Trooper I's are troopers assigned to the State of Iowa Capitol complex at District 16. While they are not considered to be lower ranking than Trooper II's, they do lack the 90-day field training process that Troopers II receive at the beginning of their assignments. Trooper I's are automatically promoted to Trooper II when they are promoted to a road assignment. Trooper I's have a minimum age requirement of 18, and any Trooper younger than 22 is given a badge that reads "Officer" rather than "Trooper." At the age of 22 an Officer Automatically becomes a trooper and it is not considered a promotion.

Title Insignia
US-O6 insignia.svg
US-O4 insignia.svg
US-O3 insignia.svg
US-O2 insignia.svg
IA - State Police Sergeant.png
Trooper III (Senior Trooper)
Trooper II
Trooper I (Capitol/Post 16)
Peace Officer Candidate Current (Capitol/Post 16)

Fallen officers[edit]

Since the establishment of the Iowa State Patrol in 1935, 10 officers have died while on duty. Of these, only one, Oran Pape, was murdered.[5]

Rank Name Date of Death Cause of Death Age Location
Patrolman Oran H. Pape 04-30-1936 Shot and killed after being taken hostage by a stolen vehicle suspect on a traffic stop on 04-29-1936; he died from his injuries one day later 29 Highway 61 outside of Fairport, Iowa
Patrolman Harold Emmerson Klinkefus 05-18-1949 Rear-ended by a tractor trailer that jackknifed while trying to avoid another car 34 On U.S. 34 near Red Oak, Iowa
Patrolman Harold Clarence DeGear 02-19-1954 Struck and killed by a truck attempting to pass on the right while handing a driver a ticket on 02-18-1954; died one day later due to injuries 29 Cedar Rapids, Iowa
Patrolman Ralph Franklin Garthwaite 07-02-1955 Killed by a drunk driver in a head-on crash 34 On Highway 30 south of Dunlap, Iowa
Sergeant Marvin C. VanderLinden 06-11-1965 Killed after being by a car while passing through a gravel intersection; he was en route to another car crash call 52 North of Sheldahl, Iowa
Trooper Charles Gerald Whitney 06-16-1985 Struck and killed while handing a ticket out by a driver who fell asleep 55 I-380 in Iowa at mile marker 70, east of Cedar River Bridge
Trooper/Pilot Lance G. Dietsch 06-30-1989 Killed along with Trooper Stanley E. Gerling in a plane crash; the plane was circling over a missing elderly man in a soybean field when it took a sudden turn and made a nosedive into the ground 30 Near Atlantic, Iowa
Trooper Stanley E. Gerling 06-30-1989. Killed along with Trooper/Pilot Lance G. Dietsch in a plane crash; the plane was circling over a missing elderly man in a soybean field when it took a sudden turn and made a nosedive into the ground 34 Near Atlantic, Iowa
Trooper Allen Patrick Nieland 10-14-1990 Killed when his Cessna 172 patrol plane suddenly nosedived into the ground while helping Troopers search for a robbery suspect 41 5 miles east of Williamsburg, Iowa
Trooper Mark Edward Toney 11-20-2011 Killed when his patrol car left the roadway and flipped several times and burst into flames 43 Highway 65/69; south of Indianola, Iowa

Division of Criminal Investigation[edit]

Contrary to some popular belief, the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI) is not, nor has it ever been, an arm of the State Patrol. It is, however, within the jurisdiction of the same entity that is in charge of the Patrol, the Iowa Department of Public Safety. However, the two entities work together on several cases that might fall under the jurisdiction of both divisions. Cases often investigated by the DCI include such things as homicide, child exploitation, and other major crimes.(i.e. robbery, white collar crime, corruption and interstate flight to avoid prosecution). Aside from this, the Division of Criminal Investigation's other duties include assigned personnel at casinos and race tracks, as well as criminal forensics teams (Iowa's equivalent of other city and county Crime Scene Investigators) and operates the state's only full service crime lab. Other investigative Divisions within DPS include the Division of Narcotics Enforcement, the State Fire Marshal, and the Division of Intelligence.

Iowa Capitol Police/District 16[edit]

In the year 2000, the Iowa Capitol Police Division was placed into the Iowa State Patrol and became District 16. District 16 maintains a highly visible security presence on the 167-acre (0.68 km2) Capitol Complex in Des Moines and the 6.5-acre (26,000 m2) Terrace Hill Governor's Residence, the official residence of the Governor of Iowa [6]

See also[edit]


External links[edit]