The Department of Public Safety Building will be renamed today to honor the first and only member of the Iowa State Patrol to be murdered in the line of duty.
Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds and state legislators will attend the christening of the Oran Pape State Office Building near the state Capitol this morning.
Pape was appointed to the newly formed Iowa Highway Patrol (now, the Iowa State Patrol) in August 1935, one of the first 50 people selected to become an officer.
On April 28, 1936, Pape was patroling U.S. Highway 61 near Muscatine and noticed a car that had been reported stolen. When he pulled the car over, its driver, Roscoe Barton, pointed a gun at Pape and took the officer hostage. Pape attempted to overpower Barton in the moving vehicle and during the struggle, both men were shot, Barton in the head and Pape in the abdomen.
Both men later died.
In addition to his law enforcement career, Pape had also played professional football, including a stint with the NFL champion Green Bay Packers in 1930. In 1934, he left the NFL and returned to Iowa, where he attended the State Police Academy in Fort Dodge.
His death is one of the reasons the Patrol began the practice of "cross drawing" guns, which means that officers wear their guns opposite their strong arm. Theoretically, the officer would be able to hold onto a person with their strong arm and draw their weapon at the same time.
The story of Oran Pape may not be common knowledge, but it is told to participants of the Fort Dodge/Webster County Citizens Academy by ISP Post 7 Commander Kelly Hindman.
Law enforcement personnel regularly risk their lives to keep our communities safe. Fortunately, only a few -like Pape - are called upon to make the ultimate sacrifice to protect our well-being. Naming the Department of Public Safety Building after this heroic patrolman honors not only his sacrifice, but also the service of all those who dedicate themselves to this vital work.