On a hot Sunday afternoon, July 28, 1935, fifty patrol officers who comprised the newly formed Iowa Highway Safety Patrol, fanned out across the State of Iowa for their first day of service to Iowa's citizens.
Secretary of State Ola Babcock Miller, who served as the primary driving force behind the establishment of the Highway Safety Patrol, believed the Safety Patrol was needed to help stem the tide of death and injury on Iowa's roadways. Her motto "Save Lives First" still serves as the primary foundation of the Iowa State Patrol's enforcement programs. In 2010, the Iowa State Patrol will mark its 75th year of service to the citizens of Iowa. Mrs. Miller would certainly be proud of the evolution of "her boys" in the Highway Patrol.
Although the duties of a State Trooper have increased dramatically during this period of time, the motto and mission of the Iowa State Patrol has not. The motto of "COURTESY, SERVICE AND PROTECTION" provides the framework of how our personnel approach every aspect of their duties. The mission of "saving lives" serves as the primary purpose of enforcement and eduational programs that address many of the same hazardous behaviors that the original 50 Patrolman faced 75 years ago. The poster below was introduced in 1934, identifying the four most dangerous categories of drivers on Iowa's roadways. Although the duties of a State Trooper have changed significantly, drunk driving and excessive speed continue to be the primary enforcement focus of today's State Trooper.
When a peace officer puts a uniform on and prepares to go on duty, their primary objective for that day's patrol is to return home safe at the conclusion of the shift. In the 75 year history of the Iowa State Patrol, 9 Patrolmen did not survive their duty shifts. Their ultimate sacrifice is a grim reminder of the risks that accompany the role of State Trooper. The willingness to assume those risks is a clear reflection of the dedication and commitment of the 1,584 Iowa State Patrol members, both past and present, who have taken the State Troopers oath and proudly served the citizens of Iowa.
Our predecessors could have never imagined the modern interstate roadway systems of today or the performance and safety features of today's automobiles. Nor could they begin to comprehend the technological advancements that have provided today's State Troopers the ability to gather and evaluate real-time electronic accident and enforcement data with a few computer key strokes from the front seat of their patrol vehicles.
Many changes have occurred over the 75 year history of the Iowa State Patrol. The one area that has not changed is our commitment to serve as one of the finest law enforcement agencies in the state, providing a variety of vital services to Iowa's citizens.
Although the Iowa State Patrol's primary mission continues to be a focus on saving lives through traffic enforcement, the organization is in a unique position to respond and provide a sustained assistance to local agencies during large scale events or natural disasters that have occurred in the state. Historically, these events have included prison riots, college campus unrest, high-risk warrant execution, tornados, flooding and domestic/international dignitary visits. In each of these circumstances, Iowa State Patrol personnel were instrumental in providing valuable assistance to various county, municipal, and federal agencies.
It is gratifying to know that the same guiding principles of traffic safety and a proud tradition of service to the public that were instilled in the first graduating class of Iowa Highway Safety Officers in 1935, still guide the organization today. As the Iowa State Patrol continues to move towards its 80th Anniversary, it remains committed to building upon the solid reputation its current and former members reflected in the motto COURTESY, SERVICE AND PROTECTION.
The Iowa State Patrol Headquarters is located at:
215 East 7th Street
Phone: (515) 725-6090
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