A follow up to this story was post on Radio Iowa at 3:50 see it here: MVE update.
The Department of Public Safety has announced plans to take over management of the motor vehicle enforcement officers that are currently under the supervision of the Department of Transportation. The motor vehicle officers are the ones you see driving blue cars and wearing blue uniforms at the weight stations across the state.
Iowa State Patrol spokesman, Sergeant Scott Bright, says there won’t be any change in how those officers operate. Bright says they will simply become another division under the Department of Public Safety and their job functions will be the same.
He says the difference people will notice is that the officers will now wear the brown uniform of the patrol and their cars will carry the Iowa State Patrol shield with identification that they are motor vehicle enforcement officers.
The patrol has seen its numbers drop as budgets have been cut back, and Bright says this will add a show of some 100 more officers in the patrol style uniform. He says you’ll see more visibility for the patrol with the change the car markings and will see more “brown shirts” as the officers change uniforms.
Bright says they think the change will save the state money in the long run. “We believe it’s going to provide the citizens of Iowa a higher level of services across the state,” Bright says, “The leadership of the state patrol and the Department of Transportation would like to see the enforcement efforts coming from one central agency, and by bringing the motor vehicle enforcement under the Department of Public Safety, we can do that.”
Bright says the change is not a new concept. Bright says most of the states in the midwest have motor vehicle enforcement under the department of public safety or their highway patrol, and other states also have the same arrangement. The changeover is starting now and could take several weeks.
He says there are transition teams from the state patrol and the D.O.T. working on the change. “It could take up to two months, it could take up to six months, there’s really not a time line that’s been set,” Bright said. “It’s an historic event for the Department of Public Safety and it’s just going to take time for this process to move ahead.” The Iowa State Patrol began in 1935 and the patrol now has around 370 troopers.
The Iowa Motor Vehicle Enforcement Division’s history page says it was started in 1941 after the state highway commission became concerned about overweight trucks damaging the state’s roadways.
Update as of 1 p.m:
The spokesman for Governor Branstad says the governor “is aware of these discussions, but has not yet approved any specific plan to move forward .” He says the governor respects the fact that any move in this direction will require the consent and approval of the legislature.