Iowa is one of the busiest states when it comes to road traffic. With Interstate 80 running through the heart of the Hawkeye State, and U.S. 34/163 becoming busier and busier, you would think that the Iowa State Patrol would be able to patrol every highway at some point in the day; unfortunately, that is not the case.
In 2010, the Iowa State Patrol celebrated its 75th anniversary. The patrolâ??s purpose is to enforce all laws, investigate crashes and to support other agencies.
Due to recent budget cuts, the patrol is leaner staffing wise than what it used to be.
â??When you look at all areas of state government, we tried to downsize due to some lack of funding, and we became more efficient with what we have,â?? said Trooper Jason Marlow.
Trooper Marlow works in District 13. The district is headquartered in Mount Pleasant, Iowa. Currently, 25 officers are based at the facility, patrolling 11 counties. Those counties stretch from the Iowa/Missouri state line to Iowa City and from Burlington, Iowa northwest to Pella.
For the patrol, it is the publicâ??s perception they are sometimes worried about, especially when it comes to response times in such a large area.
â??I think sometimes the general public has that feeling that they expect to see more officers out their. They want them to be around when they need them, and sometimes that response time; and maybe it is not just a driving related incident. We maybe be talking about a simple accident, a car/deer accident. It took 45 minutes to an hour for someone to arrive to fill out the simple paperwork. And, we are looking to increasing some of those numbers so our response times are a little bit better then what they are currently,â?? Marlow said.
In the year 2000, there were 455 state troopers patrolling Iowaâ??s highways. Today, there are only 365. The big difference besides the number of troopers is the number of registered vehicles in the State of Iowa. Since 2000, the number of registered vehicles has jumped almost 1 million.
Politics aside, Marlow says that if you are concerned about the shortage; tell your local and national political leaders.
â??Talk to your senator, talk to your representative, talk to the governor. I know they understand those things as well, and they are doing their best to work with what they have,â?? Marlow said.
Marlow added that with the political season in full swing, the patrol is responsible for escorting the President, Vice President and other major candidates through the Hawkeye State; that sometimes involves having all the officers from one district working that detail.