State troopers can’t work as private investigators for Mitchell County

OSAGE, Iowa — County Attorney Mark Walk told the Mitchell County Supervisors Nov. 15 that he would not be able to hire off-duty Iowa State Patrol troopers as private investigators to assist in enforcing the county’s road protection ordinance as he originally planned.

"I received a call from the Iowa State Patrol, and they said they would not allow their troopers to be hired by Mitchell County as private investigators," Walk said.

The county attorney said he had been approached by a private investigator with 25 years’ experience who will work for $20 an hour, and he plans to hire him.

The private investigator will put in surveillance cameras around the county, and no one will know where they are. The cameras can be Internet and cell phone activated and are motion detecting. They will take pictures and transmit them to the investigator’s computer.

"The cameras can work 24 hours a day, 7 days per week because they’re motion activated," Walk said. "He can do all kinds of things, and I’m going to hire him."


Walk said that an advertisement would appear in the newspaper last week urging county residents who see steel wheel tractors driving on paved roads in violation of the county road protection ordinance to take photos and contact the Mitchell County Sheriff.

Groffdale Conference Old Order Mennonites drive tractors with steel wheels. Mitchell County Supervisors have invested nearly $16 million in recent years to pave county roads using a process called white topping, and they say that the steel wheels damage the paving.

The Mennonite farmers, who need to drive their tractors on hard surface roads to get from field to field and to transport crops to the Cedar Valley Produce Auction, say the damage is cosmetic.

At the Nov. 8 county board meeting, Daniel Zimmerman, a Groffdale Mennonite, read a statement summarizing a discussion he had with a church bishop from Pennsylvania.

"Requiring our members to place steel wheels on our tractors is a religious regulation, reflecting our long-standing religious belief in separation from the world," said the statement.

Over the last 40 years, the Groffdale Conference ministry has repeatedly affirmed the use of steel wheels at its national conferences.

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