DOT’s Motor Vehicle Enforcement Division to merge into State Patrol

VAN METER — The nearly 100 officers in the Iowa DOT’s Motor Vehicle Enforcement Division will soon become part of the Iowa Highway Patrol.

The switch takes effect July 1. Governor Kim Reynolds said it makes sense to have units with similar functions “under the same roof” at the Iowa Department of Public Safety. Colonel Nathan Fulk, chief of the Iowa State Patrol, said the organizations have been partners for many years.

“In 2022, we collectively assisted more than 14,000 stranded motorists and the Iowa State Patrol investigated over 4600 traffic collisions,” Fulk said. “As we come together, we will in a position to improve the public safety services with consistency, collaboration and teamwork.”

Fulk and Tom Bruun, chief of the DOT’s Motor Vehicle Enforcement Division, spoke at a bill signing ceremony earlier this week.

“For years, Motor Vehicle Enforcement has worked side by side with our partners with the Iowa State Patrol to keep Iowans safe,” Bruun said. “This transition will continue to strengthen that partnership by bringing all state traffic law enforcement together under the umbrellas of the Iowa State Patrol.”

Brunn, Fulk and the state public safety commissioner will meet next week with the 365 state troopers and the 98 officers in the DOT’s Motor Vehicle Division to discuss how the merger will work. Bruun, who has worked in the DOT for nearly 34 years, said the primary focus for his officers will remain on commercial trucking and operating the 11 weigh stations in Iowa for semis. “Enforcement of size and weight regulations prevents damages to the roads and bridges, which makes them safer for the motoring public,” Bruun said.

Merging the DOT’s Motor Vehicle Enforcement Officers into the State Patrol was proposed by Governor Terry Branstad in 2011, but a bill making the change didn’t pass the state legislature until its 2023 session.

Governor Reynolds signed the bill into law at the DOT weigh station for semis that’s along eastbound Interstate-80, just after the Van Meter exit. It was open for parts of 21 days last month — and 25,000 commercial vehicles passed through.

State troopers and DOT Motor Vehicle Enforcement Officers drive vehicles that are different colors and, while the style of their uniforms are similar, troopers have brown hats and shirts, while blue is the color worn by DOT officers. Officials haven’t announced whether those color-coded differences will remain after the merger.