Iowa state trooper resigns after getting special treatment following arrest

A trooper with the Iowa State Patrol has resigned after being arrested following a drunken, late-night disturbance in which the former college football player repeatedly pounded on a female neighbor’s door, according to public documents obtained by The Associated Press.

Following his arrest, Cedar Rapids-based trooper Patrick Steinbach received special treatment at the Iowa County Jail, where the booking officer did not take his mug shot, require him to wear a jumpsuit or have him fill out a standard form answering questions about his intoxication and medical history. The booking took three hours — “an extraordinary amount of time” compared to the typical hour, Sheriff Rob Rotter said Tuesday.

Rotter said the booking officer is no longer employed after an internal review found numerous policy violations.

“He was just being incredibly nice and friendly to him and maybe being more of a friend than a booking officer,” Rotter said. “The performance of that employee was incompatible with our policies and procedures. It was brought to the attention of that employee and a change was made.”

A resident of Williamsburg, Iowa, called 911 on Dec. 20 to report an unknown man outside her home, pounding on the door and refusing requests to leave. A responding officer found Steinbach, a 6-foot-8, 300-pound former Iowa State lineman, in his truck trying to back out of the driveway.

The homeowner and her mother were inside, Williamsburg Police Chief Ray Garringer said.

“They weren’t aware of who was out there,” he said. “They were concerned that somebody was pounding on their door wanting in at 10 o’clock at night.”

The officer smelled alcohol inside Steinbach’s vehicle and saw glass bottles behind the driver’s seat. Steinbach, 28, admitted he had been drinking and failed a field sobriety test, a criminal complaint says. A preliminary breath test showed Steinbach’s blood alcohol level was over the limit, but Garringer declined to say how much.

Steinbach, who lives a mile from where he was arrested, refused to take a follow-up breath test after he was transported to the county jail in Marengo. He’s pleaded not guilty to operating while intoxicated and is scheduled to go on trial next month. Steinbach’s attorney didn’t immediately return phone and email messages seeking comment.

Iowa County Attorney Tim McMeen said he removed himself from the prosecution because he had worked on “tons of cases” with Steinbach, who’d been a trooper five years. The Iowa attorney general’s office is handling the case.

Garringer said his department handled Steinbach “like we would anyone else.” He declined to release video of the arrest while the case is pending.

Steinbach had been scheduled to work the day after the arrest at Post 11 in Cedar Rapids, where troopers patrol six counties in eastern Iowa. Instead, the Iowa Department of Public Safety placed him on administrative leave. He was allowed to collect his paycheck for seven weeks — $7,500 total — before resigning Feb. 8.

The department never filed disciplinary charges against Steinbach with a state board, where officers can challenge terminations or disciplinary actions that cut their pay.

Rotter said Steinbach — who was on Iowa State’s roster in 2006 and 2007 — was known to the booking officer because he had transported suspects to the jail previously. Rotter began investigating the handling of Steinbach’s booking within days after discovering irregularities.

“It was a very well-handled OWI case and certainly a difficult one given the circumstances,” Rotter said. “It’s just unfortunate that we had the problem that we had here at the jail. I take responsibility for that.”

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