INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — “I never heard one complaint come out of that man’s mouth. Never,” stated Mark Perry, a pastor standing behind a larger-than-life photo of Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department Chief Deputy Jim Waters.
High praise from his church pastor, Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett, IMPD Chief Bryan Roach and IMPD Lt. Michael Bruin filled Bankers Life Stadium on Wednesday afternoon along musical numbers from Marion County Sheriff’s Lt. Bryan Wolfe. Some 1,200 people watched as the speakers eulogized the IMPD offical; however, Waters wasn’t always described in phrases you’d expect to hear at a funeral.
Waters died Thursday from injuries sustained in a crash last month on Interstate 70 near Plainfield.
“Jim was the best manipulator. The absolute manipulator,” said Roach, smiling.
Roach also described how Waters would lean back, move his hands up and down in front of himself and suggest improvements, “manipulating” others to better themselves. Roach also said Waters used this special trait for a little fun with his brother, Tim.
“Jim talked Tim into buying a horse. Tim didn’t really know why he was buying a horse, but Tim bought a horse because Jim talked him into it. Strangely then, the story gets even better: Jim talked Tim into giving Jim the horse.”
Waters leaves behind his wife, two children and a granddaughter. While his family members did not speak at the funeral, others gave insight into his family life.
“He loved his family. When family was mentioned, Jim lit up,” said Perry, of Woodside Community Church. “He cared passionately about you guys.”
“He was 6-feet-5-inches of heart,” Bruin said. “Jim was a great son, brother, husband, father, grandfather, police officer, visionary police leader and community builder, but especially he was just a great friend to so many of us.”
Bruin said Waters brought his work home and his home to work.
“We worked long hours and when we finally went home we were like teenagers. We’d talk on the phone and text into the night about solving the problems of the world,” Bruin said, “and I would usually wake up in the morning to find emails that were sent long after I went to sleep.”
Bruin also told stories of going on a double date with their wives and, after dinner, reporting to the scene of a homicide. He said that illustrates what Waters and his family sacrificed for the betterment of Indianapolis.
“Jim always closed his communications to officers by thanking them for their hard work and service and telling them it was an honor to serve with them,” Bruin said. “On behalf of the men and women of IMPD, I want to say to Deputy Chief James Waters Jr. thank you for your service and the honor has been all ours.”
Former chief on Waters
Former IMPD Chief Rick Hite promoted Waters from East District commander to assistant chief.
“It’s hard. White community, black community, Burmese community, Latino community, he was known,” Hite said. “And a guy who took time for people and stopped, talked, grab a coffee. He loved to do that. Loved to chat. He loved to tell stories.”
Wednesday, his brothers and sisters and blue told the stories. One of Hite’s favorites: the time Waters diffused a street disturbance using one of his most valuable tools.
“That smile. He flashed that smile. He knew a majority of people on both sides of the issue. It was a Hatfield and McCoy kind of situation where people are at odds with each other, but he was able to get them to part ways and listen to reason. And he did that time and time again,” Hite said.
People line procession route
After the funeral at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, the police-escorted procession began. Hundreds followed as Waters’ body was driven to Crown Hill Cemetery.
But before the cemetery, there was one important location to pass through: IMPD’s East District. It’s where Waters served as commander from 2011-2014. During his tenure at the East District, Waters had a profound impact on the community.
“I wanted to get out here before the procession came through so I could show my respects to the chief,” Gabe Frast said.
Frast was the first one to arrive. He waited more than hour to pay his final respects.
“I was pretty upset because Chief Waters is such a great guy. Everybody that’s ever come into contact with him knew that.”
And everybody knew Waters was committed to the east side community.
“He was real active in the community. He went to all the coffee shops. He helped the kids,” Sandra Pickerall said tearfully.
And that community involvement was clear by the overwhelming support. Officers from the East District lined the street. Red and blue lights flashed, and a few were on horses.
Then came the rush of police motorcycles, one after another.
Hundreds of vehicles passed through, a variety of law enforcement and regular people. The street saw no shortage of mourners as dozens stood by to watch the cars pass through.
“I was not going to miss this for nothing,” Pickerall said.
“It was great to see the outpouring of support for him today,” Nancy Short said.
Short runs the local YMCA. A group there came out, displaying a fitting poster that read, “Well done good and faithful servant,” speaking to both Waters’ profession and Christian faith.
“Jim was a good and faithful servant. He served his Lord and he served his community,” Short said.
And now, as officers stood by saluting Waters one final time, a hearse carried his body and passed through the crowd. His grieving family followed behind him. Waters can hang up the service hat and rest. It’s an ending that has broken the heart of this community.
“The reason I came out for Jim Waters (is) because he was special to the east side,” Pickerall said.
After the East District, the procession ended at Crown Hill Cemetery where Waters was laid to rest.
Click here to watch the entire memorial service from Bankers Life Fieldhouse.