Farewell reception held for Linden Police Chief Alton McWaters
There was a farewell reception held for Linden Police Chief Alton McWaters on Tuesday, Jan. 23, the last day for Chief McWaters will be Jan. 31.
Many officers, public officials and citizens were in attendance at Music City Texas Theater to celebrate the long law enforcement career of Chief McWaters.
Chief McWaters has served the Linden Police Department for 30 years.
“Thirty years ago he started off he was the only officer and he used his own vehicle and was on duty seven days a week 365 day a year now that’s dedication,” said Linden Mayor Clarence Burns.
Judge Barbara McMillan presented Alton with a plaque from the Linden Municipal Court recognizing him for his service to the community.
Judge McMillan spoke about Chief McWaters after presenting him with a pistol and told the story behind the pistol that he has been trying to buy from the judge for years.
“I have known Alton for about 50 years; ya’ll didn’t know I was that old did ya? I have a pistol that he has been trying to get for just about that long and it’s really getting aggravating. Last Monday was a holiday and I was having a light day with nothing happening. The phone rings and it’s Alton and he says have you had time to look for that gun today? Well I know where it is, the sheriff has heard him do it. Terri Price has heard him and is just sick of him talking about it. Dan Hill knows about it as well as Roy Barker, so all these people got together and we think we might have got him quelled on it. He is not getting the one I had but it’s pretty close,” said Judge McMilllan.
Chief McWaters thanked them for the pistol and jokingly said, “I didn’t even have to pay for this one!”. (Wonder what kind?)
Two former Linden Mayors Kenny Hamilton and Marvin Kelly who were mayors while Chief McWaters served were asked to say a few words.
Former Mayor Kenny Hamilton spoke about working with Chief McWaters.
“I became mayor in 2005 and was until 2011 and had the privilege of working with Alton and let me tell you this about Alton, when I had an issue and went to him it was mostly a kneejerk reaction on my part, I know very little about law enforcement and every time I left Alton’s office there was another way of looking at the situation, I can tell you his demeanor and the way he handled people saved me a lot of headache from the department and I appreciate that,” said former Linden Mayor Kenny Hamilton.
“Glad to see everyone here, Mayor we know he didn’t get fat off his salary, we appreciate the many years of service here to the city, I am thankful that he is still with us and still up and going because no matter what job you have there can be some hazardous things that happen and I am glad that you can walk away, thank you and I just can’t say enough about your love for the city” said former Linden Mayor Marvin Kelly.
Linden City Manager Bob Swisher had some words of appreciation and presented a rocking chair with the word chief on it for Chief McWaters.
“We met in his office and I was like this building is a city building?, long story short him and Tony relocated the Linden Police Station and with the hundred percent approval of the city council we purchased and put them into a professional police station, if you look at where they are sitting right now with Eric taking over compared to where Alton started it is like going from caveman to standing on the moon, that is a long transition and just have to appreciate someone that has the dedication to city and stayed here, there were other opportunities available and Alton stayed here, when I talk to him I can tell him an address and he can tell me the occupant and the past five years of history, those sorts of things are valuable no matter what kind of smartphone and computer you have, we figured since he was going into retirement he needed one of the most comfortable rockers there is the Burkhalter rocker,” said Swisher.
The newly appointed Linden Police Chief Eric Lee spoke about Alton and how the door at the station will always be open to him.
“I would like to say that you are welcome at the police department any day, I expect to see you there for coffee every morning if you like. I told you I left you a key so you could come any time you wanted to, probably the most important thing I would like to say about Alton is he has been there for his officers and the citizens here but I have never heard any officer say a bad word about him, in the 25 years I have been here in Cass County they have talked good about you, you have been there and took care of them, I think you have been a great chief,” said Chief Lee.
Chief McWaters spoke for a few minutes at the end of the reception as he choked back tears at this emotional event.
“I appreciate all of you coming out and all the support, I can’t talk too long because I will start crying, thank you,” said Chief McWaters.