April 17, 2024

DES MOINES, Iowa - The Iowa Department of Public Safety was thrilled to sponsor and participate in the 2024 Build My Future event today at the Iowa State Fairgrounds. A "First Responder Zone" made its first debut in the Hall of Law and Flame, where fire departments, EMT services, and law enforcement agencies showcased the critical importance of their roles in ensuring community safety. 


Approximately 7,000 students attended this free event, which is Iowa’s largest hands-on student career fair. This is the fifth year the Build My Future event has been held in Des Moines, and it offered a unique opportunity for Iowa’s future workforce to get an inside look at what it’s like to work in public safety. 

High school is a crucial time for exploring careers. Discovering first responder roles can introduce students to new career possibilities, helping them make informed decisions about their future education and career paths. First responder careers require a unique set of skills, including problem-solving, quick decision-making, and physical endurance. Exposure to these fields can encourage students to develop these competencies, which are valuable in any career path.

Knowledge about first responder careers can encourage students to engage with their communities, whether through volunteer opportunities, internships, or simply a heightened awareness of the roles that keep their communities safe. We encourage all interested students to seize this opportunity to explore the possibilities that a career in public safety offers!

"We had water patrol boats there, a mobile command post that was essentially a big RV that’s outfitted like a dispatch center, all kinds of activities for them to get an inside look into what it’s like to be a first responder,” said Mitch Mortvedt, Director of the DPS Professional Development and Support Services Division. “It's a wonderful career. You're serving your community in a sense that gives you a lot of professional and personal job satisfaction."


Other hands-on activities that were offered to students included a mock crime scene investigation, technical reconstruction of a vehicle accident, and the chance to ride in the Iowa State Patrol’s seatbelt convincer, which allows riders to experience force up to five times their body weights - similar to that of a 5-10 mph crash.

Firetrucks, armored vehicles, police motorcycles and other vehicles were also on display. DPS worked alongside the Iowa Department of Natural Resources and several Iowa law enforcement and public safety agencies to engage and educate students, including: 

  • Des Moines & West Des Moines Police Departments
  • Urbandale Police Department
  • Clear Lake Police Department
  • Ankeny Police Department
  • Davenport Police Department
  • Waukee Fire Department
  • Pleasant Hill Fire Department
  • Westcom Emergency Communications Center 
  • Iowa Sheriff’s Association
  • Cedar Falls Public Safety
  • Urbandale Fire Department
  • Polk County Sheriff’s Office 
  • Food and Drug Administration 


The Iowa Department of Public Safety (DPS) is the largest law enforcement agency in the state. It includes seven divisions and several bureaus, all working together with local, state, and federal government agencies and the private sector to keep Iowa a safe place by following our core values: leadership, integrity, professionalism, courtesy, service, and protection. Divisions within the Iowa DPS: Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation, Iowa Division of Narcotics Enforcement, Iowa State Patrol, Iowa State Fire Marshal Division, Iowa Division of Intelligence and Fusion Center, Professional Development and Support Services Division, and Administrative Services Division. The Department of Public Safety is led by the Commissioner who is appointed by the Governor.

Iowa Department of Public Safety

215 E. 7th St.

Des Moines, IA 50319