In a rare event for the Valmeyer Police Department, there is a new police chief.
Marty Seitz has taken over that job after former chief Tom Andres retired last week following 23 years with the department.
“I want to thank all the dispatchers both past and present for all your assistance and patience throughout the years,” Andres said over the police radio when signing off for the final time. “I want to thank the Monroe County Sheriff’s Department, Waterloo Police Department and Columbia Police Department for all that they’ve done for me and always having my back. It’s been a pleasure working with you.
“I’d like to thank the Village of Valmeyer. It’s been a real privilege and a pleasure serving the community all these years. I’d like to thank all the Valmeyer police officers I worked with, both part-time and full-time. I couldn’t ask for a better bunch of officers to work with.”
Andres started working at the VPD in March 1992 as the police chief and only full-time officer.
He took that role after graduating from Valmeyer High School and McKendree University, earning a degree in criminal justice.
“My wife and I both grew up in Valmeyer,” Andres said. “Both of our parents live around here. It was ideal.”
Andres’ father, Clifford, also served as a part-time officer when he was growing up, so he was also partially following in his father’s footsteps.
During that time, Andres helped relocate the town after the Flood of 1993, which is work he is still proud of.
Working in a small community like Valmeyer can also have its downfalls, according to Andres.
“It’s good that you know everybody, but it can also be bad that you know everybody,” he explained. “(For example), you go to domestic calls and you know the people and you see them in church. It’s kind of an awkward feeling sometimes.”
Andres left the department in 2002 to work as a court security officer at the federal courthouse. He returned to the VPD in 2007, however, when the mayor asked him to come back.
Andres, whose wife taught in Valmeyer’s schools, has been in that role since.
A hallmark of Andres’ career has been Valmeyer’s reputation as one of the safest communities in the area.
In 2018, for example, there were only 65 criminal offenses and 22 arrests in 1,041 calls for service.
Those numbers are consistently low in Valmeyer, with there being as few as 58 criminal offenses in 2012 and 16 arrests in 2016.
“It’s a very community-oriented town,” Andres noted. “It’s a neighbors helping neighbors community, which is an ideal place to be as a police officer.”
In addition to his work relocating the town, Andres said he is particularly proud of the DARE program during his tenure.
“I was the one who got the DARE program started down here,” he said. “I really enjoy doing that because you get to meet the kids and they get to see you’re not just a police officer.”
Valmeyer’s children will still see Andres around, as he is now working as a part-time officer in addition to serving as a security officer at the federal courthouse.
That may not leave him much time to enjoy retired life, but Andres said it was the right decision to step down from his full-time position.
“It just felt like the right time to go,” he said. “The community’s going to be in good hands with Chief Seitz moving forward. I don’t have any concerns.”
Seitz has been with the VPD since early 2016.
Prior to that, he worked as a part-time officer in Smithon for a little more than four years and served in the 101st Airborne Infantry in the Army, including four years of active duty.
Seitz obtained his criminal justice degree from Kaskaskia College and the American Military University.
A Red Bud native, Seitz came to Valmeyer after Monroe County Sheriff and longtime friend Neal Rohlfing told him about the job.
“I absolutely loved the fit,” Seitz said. “I’m from a small town. I love the rural feel. I love small-town policing.”
Since starting with the VPD, Seitz has turned down jobs at other police departments because he loves working in Valmeyer.
“I couldn’t be happier,” he said, noting his children live in and love the village. “We’ve got a low crime rate. It’s just a great place to raise a family.”
As the time grew nearer for Andres to retire, Seitz said he knew there would be an option for him to take over as chief.
That was the next step for Seitz who, like Andres, is known around town by his first name.
“I wanted to be the next chief,” he explained. “I love being a police officer, especially in a small town. It’s just so personable. I couldn’t imagine working anywhere else.”
As he transitions to his new role, Seitz said he looks to continue Andres’ work.
“It sounds cliche, but if it ain’t broke why fix it,” he said. “Tom’s leaving me in pretty good shape.”
Seitz also said the department may add to its seven part-time officers down the line if Valmeyer’s growth supports it.
The department is currently hiring to replace Seitz as a full-time patrol officer.