Iowa State Patrol

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Iowa State Patrol
Abbreviation ISP
Patch of the Iowa State Patrol.png
Patch of the Iowa State Patrol
Flag of Iowa.svg
Flag of Iowa
Motto Courtesy, Service, Protection.
Agency overview
Formed 1935
Preceding agencies
  • Iowa Highway Safety Patrol
  • Iowa Highway Patrol
Employees 485 (as of 2004)[1]
Legal personality Governmental: Government agency
Jurisdictional structure
Operations jurisdiction* State of Iowa, USA
IA - State Patrol Districts.png
Iowa State Patrol Districts
Size 56,272 square miles (145,700 km2)
Population 2,988,046 (2007 est.)[2]
General nature
Operational structure
Headquarters Des Moines, Iowa
Troopers 355 (as of 2012)[1]
Civilians 96 (as of 2004)[1]
Agency executive Jeff N. Ritzman, Colonel
Parent agency Iowa Department of Public Safety
Districts 16
* Divisional agency: Division of the country, over which the agency has usual operational jurisdiction.

The Iowa State Patrol (ISP) is the state police organization in the state of Iowa. Currently, there are just over 355 officers in the patrol, roughly 100 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 the late 1990s, the Patrol switched to a black and gold color scheme on their vehicles. The 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; 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 (again, the winter uniform is changed to add a parka), 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 red 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.

Fallen officers[edit]

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

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;

  Division of Narcotics Enforcement 
  State Fire Marshal
  Division of Intelligence of Fusion Center.

Iowa Capitol Police[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]


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