I've encountered the Iowa Highway Patrol twice in recent years. The first happened as I was on my way home from the 2011 GOP straw poll. Tired in the wee hours, I pulled into an interstate rest area for a nap. A young highway officer woke me with a flashlight tap on a window. He gave me time to collect my thoughts, explained he was responding to a 911 hangup, and wondered if I'd seen anything. "Nothing much, just a couple of stray dogs running around." We chatted a minute or two, and he very politely left with, "Thank you for talking to me."
The next one was less pleasant. Flashing lights invited me to stop and discuss my speed. The veteran IHP cop claimed 70. I stood firm on 69, at most, and (accurately) blamed it on simple inattention, the Hedda Pass excuse. We arrived at a reasonable compromise. He wrote the ticket for 6-10 over rather than the much more expensive 11-OMG over. I departed angry only with myself. The natty officer did what he gets paid to do, levy the speed tax to fatten the Iowa treasury.
The point here is my personal view that most highway patrol guys are not unpleasant people and, in fact, are among our most intelligent and professional Only Ones.
Until, that is, you take a look at their collective behavior as expressed through their union as blared in the headline: Number of state troopers down nearly 100 since 2000.
"Iowa State Troopers Association president Darin Snedden (said). '…Our state needs to increase our trooper numbers by 87.' In 2000, there were 455 troopers on the state payroll. As of February 1st of this year, there were 363 state troopers on the job in Iowa. That’s 92 fewer troopers than there were 13 years ago.
The implication is that motoring Iowans are at greater risk in proportion fewer officers. He wants $13 million to hire about 90 more, but here the Smokey Union butts up against the statistics:
In 2000 -- the base comparison year Mr.Snedden cites -- we had 455 speed cops and 445 traffic deaths.
In 2012 we had 363 cops and 362 fatal crashes.
Hence, using the sort of logic loved by our political class, the more cops, the the more deaths. It's probably just a statistical quirk that the ratio of police manpower reductions to reduced traffic deaths approaches 1:1.
Of course my analysis is silly when applied to the issue at hand. All sorts of things affect road deaths, and -- while I doubt it -- perhaps hiring a few more highway enforcers is a wise use of money.
But it does illustrate the mindset of the ruling political class -- "We can say any damned thing we want because the proles are too lazy and stupid to check the numbers. They think math is too hard."