The difference between Iowa State and Ames Police Departments

Finn McNally, Politics Reporter

Two police departments operate in Ames: the Ames Police Department and the Iowa State Police Department. You may have seen their officers on campus or around town, but many people don’t know how the two departments are different or that they are different at all.

A common misconception is that the Iowa State Police do not have the same authority as the Ames Police. The Iowa State Police have all been through the same training as the Ames Police and are all state-certified officers. They have the ability to arrest, ticket and charge cases.

Structurally, Iowa State Police has Chief Michael Newton and Assistant Chief Carrie Jacobs whereas Ames Police has Chief Geoff Huff and Cmdrs. Dan Walter and Aaron DeLashmutt.

“We’re all state-certified officers just like any department in the state,” Newton said. “In law enforcement, we have the same mission (as the Ames Police), really it’s the jurisdiction that’s the difference.”

Newton said the Iowa State Police are in fact real police officers, they are just focused on the university.

The key difference between the Iowa State Police and Ames Police is that the Iowa State Police is a department of the university while the Ames Police is a department of the city of Ames. As a department of the university, the ISU Police’s jurisdiction covers all property owned by Iowa State. Other than university property, everything within the borders of the city is under the Ames Police’s jurisdiction.

While the two departments are responsible for enforcing the same laws; federal, state and city, ISU Police are responsible for upholding the university’s rules and policies while the Ames Police enforce city ordinances.

If a crime is reported or someone is pulled over on Iowa State property, it will be handled by Iowa State police and the same for Ames property and Ames Police. However, sometimes a crime involves both jurisdictions or a chase goes across the lines. In these instances, the responsibility goes to both departments.

Ames Police and ISU Police collaborate frequently on cases like these and when providing security for events like football games or parades. Walter said the two will work together and provide each other with resources and officers.

“We have had a long tenure here of working very closely with [the Iowa State Police] and collaborating with them on cases and sharing resources where it’s effective for both departments to help problem solve,” Walter said.

Newton said Iowa State and Ames Police will share responsibilities when necessary and are both available to students and Ames citizens alike.

“It’s important for both of our departments to work collaboratively because a lot of times the community doesn’t know which ones of us they’re talking to and so we try to work together,” Newton said.

If you aren’t sure which department to call, Walter said that both Ames and ISU Police can help you out or direct you to the right department.

“Sometimes it’s hard for citizens to determine which is which,” Walter said. “I think the main thing I want to get out there is don’t hesitate to call and we’ll point you in the right direction.”