Columbia Police Department's chaplain retiring after 33 years of service

Maj. James Swisher says Waters is "somewhat of an unsung hero."

COLUMBIA (WACH) - The Columbia Police Department is saying good-bye to the man that helps officers through tough times.

The department's chaplain is retiring after 33 years assisting officers in need.

Clyde Waters has seen it all as chaplain for the Columbia Police Department; suicide jumpers, shootings and officers killed in the line of duty.

"Most citizens really don't understand the role of a police officer and some of the things they deal with and face," said Waters, who created the unit's chaplain program.

At first, Waters wasn't popular at the the station, but he proved that being a good listener and having a big heart could help with challenges officers face daily.

"More and more officers would come and they would say, 'When are you going to come and ride with me again,' or sometimes they would say things like, 'You should have been with us last night, boy, we really had a lot of incidents going on and we could've used you,'" said Waters.

Waters says there are certain cases he will never forget, like talking a jumper off of an 18-story building, helping officers cope with the loss of one of their own, and a cold case disappearance.

"I remember when Dale Dinwitty disappeared 20 years ago or more, and the investigator who was working on that case, he came to me a few times and talked to me about some of those issues surrounding that investigation and the search for her," said Waters.

Maj. James Swisher says Waters is "somewhat of an unsung hero."

Swisher, a former Columbia Police Chief, is a longtime friend of Waters. He says Waters went beyond his job as a chaplain and that his fellow officers saw him as a partner patrolling the streets.

"There's a lot of different incidents where he'd been riding with officers and officers had to respond to calls...He got out and kind of been a backup to them. But he's just a great gentleman all around," said Swisher.

Despite retiring, Waters is far from leaving the Department.

Waters and Swisher are partnering up to visit retired officers and their families.

"It's evolved into a good experience, and I've enjoyed every year of it," said Waters.

Waters is also retiring from his day job this week as chaplain at Palmetto Health Baptist Hospital.