Waterloo Police Chief Jim Trantham stood before a crowd of supporters Thursday night in Valmeyer as he recounted the story of the worst domestic violence case he ever undertook.
He recalled the fear the victim felt toward her husband and what he might do to her, given the opportunity. In those moments that Trantham begged her to file a complaint, she responded with the only answer she felt would keep her safe.
“I remember her response; ‘I’m afraid of what he’ll do to me if I file it,’” Trantham said.
Two weeks later, Trantham said, the husband killed her. He paused for a moment, then said through choked-back tears, “I will never forget that.”
Those who listened to Trantham’s story share one struggle in common with him — each of them experienced their own tragedy with domestic violence. That brought the group together Thursday for a peace walk and glow stick vigil in support of Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
The Violence Prevention Center of Southwestern Illinois joins Monroe County and its municipalities in sponsoring the the annual event that included guest speakers, a balloon release and more. More information on the Violence Prevention Center can be found at vpcswi.org or by calling 618-236-2531.
Violence Prevention Center of Southwestern Illinois Executive Director Darlene Jones, kicked off the event with information about the center, which offers a 24-hour hotline, counseling program and legal advocacy.
Jones also shared about how rampant domestic violence is in the community.
“It’s amazing how many people still don’t believe how much domestic violence is out there,” Jones said.
In fact, statistics show that more American women were killed by a partner or ex-partner than American soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan between 2001 and 2012 — 11,766 compared to 6,488.
“People are amazed to hear that because domestic violence isn’t out in the common space,” Jones said.
On the other hand, Jones recognized that law enforcement and the community have evolved over the years on how they handle domestic violence cases. She said in the 1970s and 1980s that the victim used to be the one to have to uproot their lives if the police got involved.
“That is really an amazing thing when you look at the progress made over the years,” Jones said.
Specifically, Jones said police will directly involve the center when an incident of domestic violence occurs.
“We remember a time when there was not a charge of domestic violence,” Trantham said of the change. “We remember a time when someone had to sign a complaint if they were beaten by a spouse. It was tough, tough times.”
Near the end of the event, Kay Clements, a Waterloo High School aid with the violence prevention center, presented the peacekeeper award to Trantham and Monroe County Sheriff’s Department Deputy Chad Mueller.
“He’s been knowledgeable, patient, kind and respectful,” Clements said of Mueller.
Mueller began working for the MCSD last year. Prior to coming aboard, he worked with the St. Louis County Police Department since 2007, including as a detective in North County.
Regarding Trantham, Clements said, “I have found he is a humble person and doesn’t like to be recognized for his contributions.”
Trantham is retiring Nov. 30 after 40 years in law enforcement overall, including more than 31 years with the Waterloo Police Department. He has served as police chief for 9.5 years.
“I’m honored,” Trantham said of the award. “This is nice. I had no idea this was planned.”