Cedar Rapids-based Iowa state trooper resigned after drunken driving arrest

Sheriff: Jailer gave trooper preferential treatment, is no longer with the county

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WILLIAMSBURG — An Iowa State Patrol trooper based in Cedar Rapids resigned last month, two months after he was arrested for drunken driving in Williamsburg.

In addition to the trooper’s resignation, Iowa County Sheriff Rob Rotter said a jailer is not longer employed by the county after giving the trooper preferential treatment during the booking process.

On Wednesday, State Patrol Sgt. Nathan Ludwig confirmed that trooper Patrick Steinbach, 28, resigned in February after having been placed on administrative leave for a drunken-driving arrest in December. Steinbach had been with the state patrol since 2011.

Williamsburg Police Chief Ray Garringer said an officer was called to a residence there around 9:50 p.m. on Dec. 20 when a resident called 911 and reported an unknown man pounding on their door and refusing to leave. As the officer arrived, a vehicle was backing out of the driveway. The driver was identified as Steinbach.

Garringer said he was called to the scene when the officer realized Steinbach was a state trooper.

“Our biggest concern is to make sure it’s handled like you would anyone else,” Garringer said. “The officer called me to tell me the situation. I went to the scene and told him to do his job as he would with anyone else, and he did.”

Steinbach was subjected to field sobriety tests and a preliminary breath test that showed a blood alcohol content above .08 percent, Garringer said. He was taken to the Iowa County Jail for booking for drunken driving. Garringer said he informed Steinbach’s captain of the arrest.

“There was never any time we thought of giving him preferential treatment,” he said.

That wasn’t the case when he was booked in the jail, however. Rotter said one of his jail employees “was basically treating him a bit more like a friend than a defendant.”

That included not requiring Steinbach to change into a jail jumpsuit and taking three hours to complete the booking process. Steinbach’s booking sheet was also incomplete, Rotter said.

“That kind of work is just not compatible with this operation,” said Rotter. “It’s just in our best interest to get that process done efficiently and get them into the cell where they are safer and better off.”

Rotter said the jailer is not longer employed by the sheriff’s office. He would not say whether the employee was fired or resigned.

The booking incident was reported to the Williamsburg Police Department, Iowa County Attorney and the Attorney General’s Office, which is prosecuting the case. Rotter said he also contacted the office of the state jail inspector to inform them of the incident.

“I don’t want that hanging over my head,” Rotter said. “I took that to the inspector. I think on the state’s end, they were ... not happy that it happened, but happy that it was self-reported. It was the best that we could make out of a bad situation.”

Steinbach has pleaded not guilty to drunken driving. A jury trial in the case is scheduled to begin April 5.

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