The Ottumwa Courier

November 3, 2012

Some education needed in local law enforcement


ELDON — Recently, I called in a complaint to the Ottumwa Police Department about political signage on a concrete median on Highway 63 North next to Hy-Vee. A police officer arrived, talked with the person holding the oversized sign for a minute, then left. The sign and the person stayed.  

I called back to the OPD and asked why the sign and person were not removed. I was informed that the officer didn’t see any reason for them to leave. I talked with the officer — a sergeant who I will not name. He stated he knew of no law that would keep the person and the sign off the median.

Following is a website which will help in your continuing education in law enforcement: Iowa DOT FAQs — Political Signs:

Please pay attention to “What is a public roadway right-of-way?” which states:

“The roadway right of way includes the roadway surface, concrete or grassy median, intersections, entrance and exit ramps, and a strip of land, usually bordering either side of the road, which is reserved for shoulders, drainage ditches, sidewalks, traffic signs/signals, fencing, electrical traffic signal control boxes, utility lines, and future road expansion.”

Also pay attention to “Where are political campaign signs NOT allowed?” which states: “There are state, county and municipal laws and ordinances that govern political signs. Iowa law states that political campaign signs are not allowed on any property:

— Owned by the state or the governing body of a county, city or other political subdivision of the state, including all property considered public right of way (examples include buildings, bridges, trees or other natural features, fire hydrants, traffic control signs or devices, utility poles, posts, gates, fences, and vehicles).”

To the sergeant, I hope this adds to your law enforcement knowledge base so you can properly enforce the law.

Steven Terrell Sr.