The Iowa State Patrol, with 507 dedicated men and women, is the largest division within the Department of Public Safety. There are 407 sworn officers and 100 civilian employees that provide service and protection to the citizens of Iowa and those that visit our state. The duties of the State Patrol are to enforce all motor vehicle laws, investigate traffic accidents occurring on the highways, provide emergency medical care, promote highway safety, and assist local law enforcement agencies when requested.

Colonel Garrison Overview Airwing Collision Investigation Communications Enforcement K-9s MCSAP Safety Education Tactical Response Teams Vehicle Theft


Colonel Robert O. Garrison

A member of the Iowa State Patrol for nearly 26 years, Robert O. Garrison was appointed to head the Iowa State Patrol in October of 1999. During his tenure with the State Patrol, Garrison has undertaken a wide variety of assignments. He has served as a Trooper, Assistant District Commander, District Commander, Area Commander, Departmental Training Academy Commander, and Executive Assistant to the Commissioner of Public Safety. Colonel Garrison is the twelfth man to serve as the Chief of the Iowa State Patrol since its inception in 1935.


To enhance the duties associated with its mission of safety and service to the motoring public on the roads and highways of Iowa, the Patrol has developed several specialized areas including: Technical Accident Investigation & Reconstruction, Patrol Airwing, Vehicle Theft Unit, Tactical Response Teams, Safety Education Officers, and Motor Carrier Safety Assistance Program.

Iowa takes pride in the high level of qualified and dedicated men and women that comprise the officers of the State Patrol. Becoming an Iowa State Trooper requires determination and perseverance. To qualify for acceptance into the Department's peace officer training program, the applicant must meet stringent physical, mental, and moral standards. Once accepted, recruits must successfully complete 20 weeks of intensive physical and scholastic training, then spend three months with a field-training officer. Once they have completed a yearlong probation period, the Trooper is ready to embark on a rewarding career.

Troopers are often called into court to
testify during court proceedings.

A typical day for a trooper can be anything but typical. While their primary responsibilities include patrolling county, state and interstate highways to ensure the safety and well being of travelers, they may be called upon to handle a wide-range of duties. The trooper must always be prepared to respond to any emergency. From removing the alcohol/drug impaired driver from the roadway, or identifying drug traffickers that utilize Iowa's highways, to giving directions to lost motorists, Troopers do a lot more than just write citations.  

Troopers routinely relay emergency blood and tissue across the state, change a flat tire, testify in court, or call for a tow truck. They respond to motor vehicle collisions by attending to the injured, requesting an ambulance when necessary, directing traffic, completing reports, or making death notifications to family members.

The Iowa State Patrol has many diversified operations including:
* Airwing - providing enforcement, searches, and relays in one of the Patrol's air craft

* Canine Unit - assisting in drug interdiction, searches and officer protection

* Communications Operations - receiving and dispatching emergency information

* Methamphetamine labs tactical support - drug arrests and interdiction

* Motor Carrier Assistance Program - commercial vehicle inspection and enforcement

* Safety Education - providing education and community awareness programs

* Tactical Response Teams - special weapons, tactics, and hostage negotiations

* Technical Accident Investigations - investigations involving traffic fatalities

Vehicle Theft - working in conjunction with other agencies to recover stolen vehicles



The primary duty of Iowa State Troopers is to enforce all motor vehicle laws. State Troopers routinely patrol more than 112,000 miles of state roadways. These roadways consist of interstates, state highways, and secondary county roads. While on patrol, Troopers encounter criminal activity, motorists in need of assistance, traffic collisions, and traffic law violators. Swift and equitable justice often begins with the identification and apprehension of violators by Troopers on patrol. Perhaps the single most dangerous person on our highways is the intoxicated or drugged driver. Arrests for Operating While Intoxicated remains one of the most important ways to save lives and prevent injuries to the motoring public. Two thousand, two hundred and fifty individuals were arrested for violating Iowa's OWI laws in FY 2002. In addition, 311young drivers were identified and processed for violation of the .02 BAC restrictions on under age persons.

Every trooper received updated training on conducting Standardized Field Sobriety Tests to enhance their ability to recognize the drunk or drugged driver.

Illegal drugs in Iowa is considered a major detriment to the environment of safety that is vital to our economic and cultural growth. The Iowa State Patrol recognizes this fact and has taken significant steps to reduce and mitigate this harmful driver.

The Iowa State Patrol, funded by a grant from the Governor's Traffic Safety Bureau, recently utilized a team concept in an attempt to reduce alcohol related fatalaties in Iowa. In April, May and June of 2002, a team of 38 Troopers focused primarily on removing intoxicated drivers from Iowa roadways. During the course of this project, Troopers assigned to this program arrested 569 drivers for operating while intoxicated, an increase of 418 arrests over the same time period in 2001. The extra emphasis resulted in a 53% reduction in alcohol related fatalities from 2001 to 2002 for the months of the project. In addition, Safety Education Officers across the state conducted 145 alcohol related educational programs for high schools during these months - reaching approximately 7,500 Iowa high school students.

Much of the enforcement action that Troopers take on the highways does not involve formal charges or arrests. During 2001, Iowa State Troopers issued 165,420 warning memorandums for various minor traffic infractions. An additional 67,582 faulty equipment advisories were issued for things like non-working head or tail lamps on vehicles. Troopers also documented 32,766 incidents in which they provided assistance to a motorist in need on Iowa highways.

Together, these actions represent over a quarter of a million contacts with citizens that can be considered as occurring in the most positive way. If a warning alone can correct a driving or vehicle equipment infraction, Iowa Troopers are more than willing to give this opportunity to a violator without the demands or stigma of formal criminal charges.



Motor Carrier Assistance Program (MCSAP)
The Iowa State Patrol's Motor Carrier Safety Assistance Program (MCSAP) was created in 1992. Specially trained MCSAP troopers travel Iowa's roadways identifying and removing fatigued and impaired commercial motor vehicle operators, thereby providing a safer environment for the motoring public. Commercial motor vehicles represent a significant percentage of the miles driven on our roadways, and the safety and proper operation of these vehicles is essential.

Supported by a core group of thirteen full time troopers, a sergeant and lieutenant coordinator, and administrative support, MCSAP is part of a nationwide program operating under the guidance of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. Located throughout the state, these officers work the interstate system with an emphasis on identifying fatigued and impaired commercial motor vehicle operators.

During Fiscal Year 2002, MCSAP performed approximately 4,839 inspections. These inspections resulted in 3,532 citations, 9,165 warnings, 1,938 drivers placed out of service, and 105 vehicles placed out of service for violations.

The MCSAP Core Group assisted the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration with approximately 300 security sensitive visits of hazard material transporters.

With the assistance of the Iowa Department of Transportation's Enforcement Division, thirty additional troopers received MCSAP qualification training.


K-9 Unit

The Iowa State Patrol K-9 Unit was implemented in 1992 with five police service dogs. Today, the program consists of seven police service dog teams, all of which are certified under international standards.

The K-9 Unit assists members of the DPS and outside law enforcement agencies in the areas of narcotics detection, evidence recovery, criminal apprehension, tracking and building searches.

In calendar year 2001, the K-9 Unit responded to 723 requests for assistance. Of those requests, 197 were from outside agencies. The service dogs were utilized 35 times for public demonstrations, 43 times for search warrants, 65 times for officer protection and tactical purposes, 12 times for building searches, and 23 times to track or check an area for missing persons or criminals.

The K-9 Unit conducted 640 narcotics "sniff" throughout the year, resulting in the seizure of approximately $870,000 in narcotics, over $1,014,000 in drug-tainted US currency, and approximately $62,000 in property. These seizures resulted in 262 criminal charges, of which, 48 were felonies.


K-9 Units
In Service
for Service
Narcotics Seized
Currency Seized
Property Seized
Approx. $870,000
$1,014,000 +
$61,000 +
Approx. $2 million
$104,000 +
$11,000 +
Approx. $1.1 million
$74,000 +
$3,200 +


Tactical Response Teams  
The State Patrol has four "area" tactical teams located throughout the state. The area concept allows for rapid deployment to best serve the entire state. Tactical teams consists of 10 troopers, and two sergeants that serve as the team Leader and Assistant Team Leader. The Teams provide support and expertise with specialized equipment to the operation of the department and local law enforcement. Tactical teams have been activated to handle numerous emergency situations throughout the state. These have included armed barricaded suspects, suspects with hostages, natural disasters, passenger train derailments, prison riots, dignitary protections, clandestine methamphetamine laboratories, search and arrest warrants, and dealings with heavily armed individuals. Teams train on a monthly basis so that they are prepared in a moments notice to respond when the need arises.






The Iowa State Patrol's Airwing is comprised of seven Trooper/Pilots. During 2001, these pilots accumulated over 3,600 total hours of flight time. In addition to initiating 27 felony cases, trooper pilots assisted local law enforcement agencies and road troopers in the special assignments shown in the chart at right.

Searching for lost persons and fugitives
114 hours
Criminal surveillance
306 hours
Transportation of individuals
169 hours
Emergency blood and eye bank/tissue relays
171 hours


Technical Collision Investigation

The Technical Collision Investigation Unit is comprised of troopers who are highly trained in the field of highway collision investigation and reconstruction. The unit consists of 39 Technical Investigators assigned throughout the state. Technical Investigators conducted 184 collision investigations during 2001.


Six laser devices were recently added to the equipment utilized by the investigators. These lasers can be utilized to measure collision scenes as well as for speed enforcement. Throughout the year, the investigators may be called upon to take part in staged collisions. Staged collisions allow the investigators a chance to validate various mathematical calculations that are commonly used in collision reconstruction.


Vehicle Theft Unit


The State Patrol Vehicle Theft Unit was created in 1976 in response to the escalating nationwide stolen vehicle problem. Vehicle Theft troopers work to reduce the occurrences of vehicle theft for profit within the state, and to eliminate the use of Iowa as a market place for stolen vehicles imported from other areas. Officers investigate vehicle theft, insurance fraud, salvage fraud, recover and identify stolen vehicles, inspect salvage yards, identify "chop shop" operations, and conduct "sting" operations. The Vehicle Theft Unit works cooperatively with federal, local, and other state law enforcement agencies, as well as private insurance companies, to thwart nationwide trends of stolen vehicles and fraud.

The Vehicle Theft Unit opened 59 new cases during FY 02. During this same time period, 121 stolen vehicles, having a value of over $2 million, were identified and recovered. Seventy-four of these vehicles were identified during a six month sting operation involving law enforcement from the F.B.I., the Omaha Police Department, and the Iowa State Patrol. Vehicle Theft troopers inspected eight dealership/salvage yards and conducted 252 vehicle inspections.

ISP Communications is a network of six Communication Centers and 28 repeater/tower sites providing statewide mobile voice communications for more than 1,000 state law enforcement officers (Department of Public Safety, Department of Transportation, and the Department of Natural Resources. In addition, ISP Communications provides services for numerous federal, county, and local law enforcement officers and agencies.

During 2001, ISP Communications handled 26,868 toll-free help line calls, 232,419 wireless 911 calls, and processed 847,964 IOWA System inquires. All told, this amounts to an average of 3,033 transactions per day. This does not include the number of radio transmissions conducted, events logged, or administrative calls handled. Needless to say, with a reduction of 8.5% in staff, the Communications Center employees were kept very busy.

During 2001, ISP Communications received nearly $500,000 from the Emergency Management Division/Wireless E911 program. These funds enabled the replacement of the telephone system in all six of the Communication Centers. The new telephone system allows for the display of the call back number from cellular telephones utilizing the E911 system and also allows for the one button transfer of emergency calls to the appropriate responding agency. This new telephone system will also provide the location of the cellular telephone user during phase II of the Wireless E911 plan to be implemented in the near future.

In support of the Homeland Security issues arising from terrorist attacks on the US in 2001, ISP Communications has been identified as the lead agency in coordinating statewide notification in the event of Federal Aviation Administration emergency broadcast. ISP Communications serves as the point of contact for dissemination of information pertaining to statewide or national emergencies for the state of Iowa.


Safety Education

The Iowa State Patrol maintains fourteen troopers assigned full time to presenting educational programs for the public in safety related fields. Each District has a Safety Education Officer (SEOs) assigned and the unit is coordinated by a sergeant located in the Des Moines ISP Headquarters.

During 2001, Safety Education Officers gave 4,619 programs across the state, reaching over 176,000 people. In addition, radio and television public service announcements are regularly prepared - particularly leading up to major holiday traffic periods.

Safety programs include Defensive Driving, Substance Abuse Prevention, Bicycle Safety, and Seat Belt and Child Restraint Effectiveness Seminars. SEOs also set up informational booths at the Iowa State Fair, county fairs, sports and vacation shows, and other community based events. They also perform outstanding service in support of RAGBRAI and Boys State.

Directing Traffic Drug Interdiction Canines Technical Collision Investigators Governor's Security Detail Honor Guard Communication is vital for troopers in the field Ready to hit the road Safety Education Officers teach the safety of bike helmets Colonel Robert O. Garrison
Created October 1, 2002 BAL
Testifying in Court Vehicle Stop Breathalizer Trooper with Motorist MCSAP MCSAP Statistics Tactical Response Team Accident Investigation Laser used in collision investigations Vehicle Theft Officer Examins Motorcycle Communications Center Specialist Trooper with Child