HAMLET — With less than 48 hours before his retirement, outgoing Police Chief Scott Waters was honored by the community in the Depot’s rotunda Thursday afternoon.
Waters, who has been with the Hamlet Police Department for the entirety of his 28-year law enforcement career, greeted fellow officers, city officials and others who came out to wish him well.
In the crowd were several of Waters’ former supervisors, including former chief Terry Moore, who hired him; Rockingham Police Chief Billy Kelly and several officers from his department; and several deputies from the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office.
Kelly and Waters, who began their careers a year apart, worked together when the Basic Law Enforcement Training program was started at Richmond Community College.
“He’s very fortunate to retire with 30 years of law enforcement service to the city of Hamlet and to have good health, to be able to spend time with his family,” Kelly said. “We wish him the best.”
Mayor Bill Bayless presented Waters with a proclamation plaque which outlined his community service, not only with the police department, but as a school resource officer and as a leader with the Richmond County Rescue Squad and the BLET program.
Sgt. Britt Emert gave Waters a going-away gift from the department: a shadow box containing a photo and each rank Waters held from his start in 1991 as a patrolman to chief, a position he’s held since the end of 2014.
“We just wanted him to know we saw everything he did,” Emert said as Waters held back tears. “We saw the time spend away from his family. Not only did we see him come in happy, singing — songs that we mostly didn’t understand — we’ve also seen some stressful times too, and I know his family saw it.
Jeff Avant also presented a plaque on behalf of Richmond County Crime Stoppers and conveyed congratulations from the N.C. Crime Stoppers board.
He said Waters was not only supportive of Crime Stoppers at the local level, but also on the state level, and attended many state conventions.
“Richmond County Crime Stoppers means a lot to me personally and to the city of Hamlet,” Waters said. “They’ve helped so much and without the community involvement, we can’t solve the crime — no matter how many years of service you’ve got, no matter how many degrees or education you’ve got. It takes the community as a whole to be involved.”
Carole Venable of the Richmond County Mental Health Society, which runs the Richmond County Soup Kitchen in Hamlet, also presented Waters with a plaque of appreciation.
“I want to just thank you for your help at the soup kitchen,” she told him. “It has been a lot, and our clients and our volunteers feel much safer knowing that you show up there real often.”
Waters said his roots are deep in the community — growing up in East Hamlet and working odd jobs to save money to go to the fair every year— and he will continue to be involved, including with Crime Stoppers.
As an officer and leader, Waters said he’s told those under his command to treat everyone with respect.
“Whether it’s the wino on the street or … one of our elected officials, you treat people with dignity,” he said. “It’ll carry a lot of weight in your career and your life … so treat everyone the way you want to be treated.”
Retirement, he continued, is bittersweet.
“I bleed too much blue to hang the ol’ badge and gun up,” he said. “I hate to leave where I started at.”
However, he’s not hanging it up for good.
Waters will serve as a part-time deputy with the sheriff’s office, but doesn’t yet know what his duties will be.
His last day is Friday.