'Appalling': Woman not happy with Waterloo mayor's apology for police chief's cursing

News-DemocratJuly 9, 2013 

Waterloo Mayor Thomas Smith has issued an apology to a woman who complained that she was cursed at by the village's police chief.

But the woman who was the target of the chief's rough words said she doesn't think the attempt to smooth over the situation goes nearly far enough.

Police Chief Jim Trantham denied that he cursed Becky Timpe. Also, cursing is not heard on a surveillance audiotape of Trantham and Timpe talking at city hall.

"I find a two-paragraph apology -- half of which was an explanation of how professional and positive the police chief is -- to be appalling," Timpe said. "That didn't satisfy me at all."

Smith was unable to be reached for comment Tuesday. But he said in the letter to Timpe that he reviewed surveillance video of the incident and determined that an apology was in order.

"Chief Trantham has a well-deserved reputation for patience and politeness," Smith wrote. "Unfortunately, he did not live up to his reputation in this meeting with you."

Timpe said she wants a better, public apology not only from the mayor but also from the chief directly as well as the two police officers who handled her case.

Trantham, reached Tuesday afternoon, said he wouldn't comment when asked about his opinion of the mayor's decision to apologize. But he insisted that neither he nor his officers did anything wrong and it was Timpe who cursed out police, not the other way around.

"She cursed at my officers for 22 minutes" before she came to the police department, Trantham said. "She can wait a long time before she's going to get an apology from me."

She initially came into contact with police June 16 when she called police to complain about dogs being left in a hot car. Timpe said officers reacted negatively to what she considered to be an attempt to be a good citizen. So she went to the police department to talk to the chief.

Instead of listening to her concerns, Timpe said, the chief lectured her and used rude language. She then alleged he threw her out of the lobby of the police department. Trantham said security cameras in the lobby prove he didn't curse at her or push her out of the building.

"I'm not letting it go," Timpe said. "I just mailed a formal complaint to the mayor and to the police commissioners here in town. I am asking for a public apology from the mayor and police chief and from the two officers who turned my 9-1-1 call into an accusation of me breaking into a car and attempting to steal something. They assassinated my character and I can't believe the mayor would think the two paragraph so-called apology he sent out would be good enough."

Trantham said his police officers and an animal control officer came to the scene when Timpe called for help and saw the dogs in the car. They determined that they were not in distress so they didn't see the need to take further action other than to try to contact the vehicle owner. But she was unsatisfied with the officers' decision.

Police did not accuse Timpe of a crime or threaten to charge her, Trantham said. They warned her that if she entered another person's vehicle without permission it would be crossing a legal line, and warned her not to do so.

"In my 28 years here I have never had a situation like this where a person just doesn't want to let something go," Trantham said.

Contact reporter Scott Wuerz at swuerz@bnd.com or call 618-239-2626.

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