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History of the Iowa State Patrol



  • The 46th General Assembly signed a bill for 53 men for Safety Patrol.

  • The bill was signed into law by Governor Clyde L. Herring on May 7, 1935.

  • There were 3,000 applications for safety school. 100 applicants chosen for training at Camp Dodge.

  • Qualifications included the following: 

    • Height at least 5 feet, 10 inches

    • Vision 20-20, uncorrected

  • Only 60% from one political party
  • Instructor: Maryland State Police Officer 
  • Chief. John Hattery (former Sheriff from Story City)- Paid $200 monthly
  • Assistant Chief: E. A. Conly of Marshalltown and J. H. Nestle of Carroll- Paid $165.00 monthly
  • While in training, applicants were paid $40.00 per month.
  • Iowa Highway Safety Patrol patrolled roads for the first time July 28, 1935.
  • The uniform for the summer was khaki jodhpur breeches and blouses, knee-high black boots, black ties, black gun belts and khaki visored caps.
  • Patrolman carried a Colt .38 Special with a four-inch barrel. For winter, the men were issued wool, olive drab uniforms and heavy overcoats.
  • Patrolmen were paid $100.00 per month. The Patrol started patrolling for the first time with 50 officers and three supervisors, 37 cars and 12 motorcycles.
  • Officers worked from 6:00 am until 6:00 pm.
  • AM radio receivers were used and the radio station transmitter was in Des Moines with the hours of operation from 8:00 am until 2:00 am.
  • Shape of the State Patrol patch, some say represents a kernel of corn, while others say that Chief Hattery and Commissioner Lew Wallace picked it from a medallion commemorating the Louisiana Purchase.
  • On September 3, 1935, James Machholz was the first patrolman to be fired upon.



  • Oran Pape was the first patrolman to die in the line of duty. He was the first officer to be murdered.


  • The State Patrol increased to 125 men.
  • There were 1,500 applicants for the State Patrol. 
  • The gun holster was moved to the left side. 
  • The State Patrol took over driver's license duties.
  • Mrs. Ola Miller died of pneumonia.


  • The first patrolman went to accident school.
  • The Department of Public Safety was formed under the Commissioner of Public Safety (SF379). C. A. Knee became the new Chief of the State Patrol. Weight enforcement is moved to the Highway Commission


  • This year was the beginning of school bus inspections.
  • Speed tape (speed monitoring through tape was introduced).
  • The uniform shirts color was changed from tan cotton to brown wool, keeping the same black tie. Gray trousers with a black stripe replaced breeches. The uniform also consisted of a black belt, black holster, 38 colt revolver, black handcuff holder, handcuffs, brown cap with black visor, and a white raincoat. The winter uniform was the same except that the tan cotton shirts were worn with the brown blouse with the Sam Brown belt.


  • Adapted the State Patrol motto: "Courtesy, Service, Protection".


  • The last two remaining motorcycles were retired. 


  • A patrol car was issued to each man. Each car was equipped with a police radio receiver, siren, spot light, red light to the front, red light on the rear, red stop light mounted on right front fender. Every car contained a first aid kit, tow chain, shovel, flares, fire extinguisher and flashlight. 
  • The officers drove a total of approximately 60,000 miles.
  • One half of the patrol officers attended a one week peace officer course at the University of Iowa.


  • All Patrol cars were equipped with two-way radios.


  • Patrolman John Mahnke was kidnapped while patrolling and left chained to a furnace in a country school house in Northern Iowa.  He was later released without injuries.


  • S. N. Jesperson became Chief. 
  • Four more Districts were added to the original, making a total of 14 Districts in the State Patrol.
  • Model 12 Winchester 12 gauge shotguns were issued. 
  • The Patrol grew from 122 to 163 men. 


  • Patrol began converting to a FM radio system. 


  • More drivers license examiners added to Patrol. They worked ten hours a day for six days.


  • Patrolman Harold E. Klinkefus was killed in a traffic accident.


  • Patrol Headquarters moved to the Lucas State Office Building from the Capitol.


  • The police radio system was started.


  • Charles Bendlage was kidnapped.
  • Patrol started to paint traffic fatalities on trunk lids of their cars.


  • David Herrick became Chief of the Iowa State Patrol.
  • Patrol now has 240 officers.
  • Patrolmen were paid $200.00 a month.
  • Officers worked 10 hour days, no Saturdays or holidays off (one Sunday off per month).


  • Patrolman Harold C. DeGear died in a traffic accident.
  • The Patrol started to use unmarked vehicles.


  • On July 2, 1955, Ralph F. Garthwaite died in a head-on crash.
  • The Patrol used eleven National Guard planes for July 4th enforcement. 
  • Patrol purchased five speed tapes.
  • Patrolman Reddick had the first eye relay on November 11, 1955.


  • Patrol bought two piper super cubs for traffic control.
  • Ties were discarded as part of the summer uniform.


  • The Patrol Force was increased to 275 men, an increase of 50 men.
  • Night time speed limits were 60 miles per hour.
  • Post Sergeants promoted to rank of Lieutenant as District Commanders.  Each District Office had two Sergeants: First Sergeant (received $40.00 more than a patrolman) and Buck Sergeant (received $25.00 more pay than a patrolman).
  • Previously, two officers rode in a patrol car after 6 pm.  This was changed to only one officer in the car.


  • Patrol purchased five radar units.
  • The first ten miles of the Interstate opened (Dexter to Highway 69, later to Newton).
  • A new point system for moving Violations was put into effect.


  • The State Patrol was increased to 300 men.


  • Nametags were now being worn by Patrolmen.


  • Commissioner Pesch announced plans for 65 patrol cars to be other than black.


  • Ted Mikesch promoted to Chief of the Patrol.


  • The idea of a Community Service Officer Program formulated.


  • June 11, 1965, Patrolman Marvin C. Vanderlinden killed in a car crash.
  • In 1965 to 1966, 100 men were added to the Patrol, for a total of 410 officers.
  • The first vascar units were issue, one per district.
  • Patrol started to use portable radars.
  • Five Safety Officers appointed in December 1965.


  • Short sleeve shirts worn.
  • A trooper's pay was $425.00 monthly.
  • Howard S. Miller became Chief of the Patrol.
  • The winter blouse and Sam Brown gear was used only on special occasions.
  • Patrol purchased a gas transfer kit.
  • The state bought 50 VASCARs.
  • The Patrol had 410 officers.


  • Patrol cars changed to the color white.
  • Chief Machholz designed a mobile command post.
  • The blouses of the winter uniform were changed and Sam Brown gear was worn only on special occasions.


  • Safety Officers increased to 15.
  • Patrol gained access to a computer with the National Crime Information Center.


  • The Patrol took over the Governor's Security Detail May 15, 1970.


  • Campaign hats issued to patrolmen.
  • Traffic accident kits bought for each patrol car.
  • Civilians began giving driving tests to citizens.


  • The patrol increased to six airplanes.
  • Patrol changes name of area headquarters from "districts" to "posts."
  • The title "patrolman" changed to "trooper."


  • Lieutenant Colonel James Machholz retired;  last of "35 Camp".


  • Speed limit set at 55 mph.
  • July 1, 1974, counties went to the magistrate system.
  • Edward Dickinson became Chief of the Patrol December 1, 1974.


  • Gayle Adrian and Julie Gay were the first women on the Patrol.
  • Robert Thomas was the first African-American on the Patrol.
  • The Driver's Division was removed from the Patrol on July 1, 1975, and turned over to the Department of Transportation.
  • There was an increase of 20 troopers in the Patrol.
  • The name changed from "Iowa Highway Patrol" to "Iowa State Patrol".


  • The Vehicle Theft Unit was formed in 1976.
  • Capitol Security Directorship assigned to State Patrol.
  • New breast badges were issued to all officers.
  • Smith and Wesson 357 Magnum, Model 66 gun issued.
  • Emergency Assistance Radio System (EARS) was started.
  • SF1014 gave legislative authority for Patrol to put stars on license plates.


  • Trooper Fred Herman was shot.
  • Bulletproof vests were issued to officers.
  • The Patrol Tactical Teams were formed.


  • Each trooper was issued a moving radar. (MPH-K-55).
  • Des Moines Register article listing Patrol second to God.


  • State Patrol bought two Kawasaki 1000 motorcycles, one involved in traffic accident four days later.
  • Each post installed CRT.


  • State Patrol bought new Smith and Wesson 357 revolvers, Model 66-1.


  • Frank Metzger became Chief of the Patrol.
  • Technical Accident Investigation Program started.
  • The Patrol formed an Honor Guard.
  • The Patrol purchased Smith and Wesson 357 revolvers, Model 686.


  • The Patrol's fleet of cars changed to a brown color.
  • District #15 was formed.


  • Speed loaders were issued to officers.
  • PR-24 issued to uniformed personnel.
  • State Patrol Chaplains Program was formed.
  • A State Patrol airplane was hit by rifle fire.


  • Trooper Charles Whitney was killed when hit by a car June 16, 1985.


  • Blaine Goff became Chief of Patrol on June 7, 1988.
  • Des Moines Register public poll shows the Iowa State Patrol second to God (printed second time).


  • TeleTec portable repeaters put in patrol cars.
  • Lance Dietsch, #142, and Stanley Gerling, #190, died in a plane crash on June 30, 1989.


  • Cameras are issued to all troopers.
  • Trooper Al Nieland dies in a plane crash on October 14, 1990.
  • Patrol starts working in D.A.R.E. (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) Program.
  • Trooper Virgil Stammeyer was shot and wounded.


  • State Patrol Canine Program is started.


  • Patrol joined the Motor Carrier Safety Assistance Program (MCSAP) on April 1st.
  • Earl Usher became the 10th Chief of State Patrol on November 12th.


  • Public Information Officer appointed to Headquarters for the first time.
  • Smith and Wesson semi-automatic 40 caliber handguns issued.
  • Video cameras purchased and installed in first patrol cars. 


  • Motorist Assistance Program implemented.
  • FLIR (Forward Looking Infrared) put on aircraft.
  • Stop Sticks put in all patrol cars.


  • First female promoted to Sergeant in the Iowa State Patrol. Donna D. Bacus, #242 on January 13, 1995, was assigned to District #9 in Cedar Falls.
  • Patrol Districts 13 and 14 realigned Keokuk County from District #13 and added it to District #14.


  • Jon Wilson became the 11th Chief of the State Patrol on July 12, 1996.
  • Firearms Training Simulator (F.A.T.s machine) incorporated into training. 
  • Additional field sergeants added- making a minimum of three at each district.
  • Installation of video cameras in all field patrol cars completed.
  • 12 COPs (federally -funded officers) added to the force.


  • District #4 incorporated into Districts 3 and 5. Top tier of counties (Monona, Crawford, Carroll and Greene) were incorporated into District #5 (Cherokee). Lower tier of counties (Harrison, Shelby, Audubon and Guthrie incorporated into District #3 (Council Bluffs).
  • ASP retractable baton added as a defensive weapon.
  • Installation of cages began in some patrol cars.
  • The Legislature approved appropriation of 8 million dollars for a new radio system.


  • Patrol cars change to black with newly designed reflective lettering and emblem.
  • Lions Club of Iowa recognizes the Patrol for its participation in the Eye Bank program (begun in 1956).
  • Policy recognizing senior officers with hat band and vehicle markings re-instituted.
  • Implementation of lap top computers in patrol cars begun.
  • First female promoted to Lieutenant in the Iowa State Patrol. Donna D. Bacus, #242 on September 4, 1998.


  • Methamphetamine Abuse Awareness Education Program initiated statewide March 1, 1999.
  • Last of original canines, Jager, was retired.
  • Land purchased for new office in District 2.
  • Robert O. Garrison becomes the 12th Chief of the State Patrol on October 2, 1999.


  • Two new canine handlers selected, bringing canine unit strength to seven.  Previous high was six.
  • Trooper selected to become canine trainer, first ever for Iowa State Patrol.
  • ISP hosted 2000 CARE Conference.
  • First female promoted to Captain in the Iowa State Patrol. Donna D. Bacus, #242 on January 28, 2000.
  • November 16, 2000, Capitol Police was reorganized into the Patrol as District #16.
  • Desert Snow, a four-day class to recognize drugs being carried in vehicles, was instructed to 40 Troopers.
  • Legislative direction was given to the Patrol to discontinue the D.A.R.E. program.
  • District #4 was reopened.
  • New District #2 office completed and dedicated.
  • Work on new Supply Building began (30 NE 48th Place).
  • In July, the Department of Public Safety graduated 20 officers - 13 troopers; 3 to field and 10 to District #16.
  • September 11, 2001 - Terrorist attacks on the USA. Patrol gained a better working relationship with federal and other local governments.
  • Trooper posted at three locations throughout the State because of Anthrax scare.
  • Vehicle Theft special store front operations involving DNE, DCI, Urbandale PD, Des Moines PD and ISP. National Insurance Crime Bureau assisted in technical support and financing. During a six-month period, stolen property valued at $1.5 million was recovered. Purchased 50 items undercover, 25 from individuals. Spent less than .05 on the dollar! 120 felony, 100 state and 20 federal charges were filed. All pled or were found guilty.
  • New badges were given to District #16 Troopers.
  • Arizona Beige cars were brought into the fleet.
  • Trooper Shane Davis selected as one of the four finalists for National Trooper of the Year.
  • First female on the Governor's Detail. Sergeant Regina Clemens, #290, was on the detail from July, 2001 through July, 2002.


  • New Supply Building completed.
  • Moved District #15 to previous Supply Building.
  • First STING operation.
  • Reduction to three Center Managers for Communications was implemented. Each Center Manager is responsible for two Communications Centers.
  • Road and Weather website implemented (
  • Due to several Troopers being seriously injured while assisting motorists, the legislature passed the move over/slow down law.
  • All current Safety Education Officers become certified passenger seat technicians.
  • Vehicle Theft in Council Bluffs and Omaha are recovered over $1 million in construction equipment. FBI, US Attorney's Office, Omaha PD were involved in the project which stated in early 2001 and concluded in 2002. National Insurance Crime Bureau assisted in technical and financial support.
  • The Patrol has lost 50 full-time employees since 2000 due to budget constraints and attrition.


  • By February, the Amber Alert system was tested and implemented. The Alert was utilized three times that year, all with positive results.
  • By end of June, State Troopers were transitioned to strong side holsters.


  • A record of 44.1 million dollars of illegal drugs were removed from the roadways of Iowa.
  • Due to budget challenges, the Patrol reached its lowest strength of Troopers since 1966.
  • The Mobile Communications Center was acquired and made available for emergencies and disasters.
  • In August, a seized BMW was converted to a Patrol car to promote drug awareness.
  • On September 26, the entire Patrol gathered in Des Moines at the State Capitol for a group photo for the 70th Anniversary.


  • The 29th and 30th Basic Academies were held; the first since 2001. This was the first time that a shortened academy was held for candidates with previous law enforcement experience. The two classes graduated on May 20.
  • The Safety Education Unit hosted the U.S.E.O.W conference in Council Bluffs on June 6-9.
  • Iowa hosted the National Governor's Association annual conference in Des Moines on July 15-18. The Patrol provided security for this event.
  • On July 28, the Iowa State Patrol celebrated its 70th Anniversary.
  • August 11 was proclaimed "Iowa State Patrol Day" at the 151st Iowa State Fair. A ceremony and demonstrations were held.
  • Trooper Bear (a walk around mascot) was introduced to the public at the Iowa State Fair.