INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Standing at six feet five inches tall, Jim Waters was a big man with a bigger heart. He loved Elvis, gospel music, flying airplanes, playing basketball, Indianapolis and IMPD.
A funeral service for the top police commander at Banker’s Life Fieldhouse on Wednesday featured tributes from colleagues and the mayor, somber words from his minister, and family remembrances for a man from a police family who put his own flesh-and-blood ahead of his brothers and sisters in blue and the community they swore to protect.
“Fellow officers, he loved you, he loved the city of Indianapolis,” said Pastor Mike Petty of Woodside Community Church. “He gave his life of 27 years just serving you and just serving this city, and he wanted to make you a better person. That’s because he had a passion deep down inside for this city to make it a better place.”
Waters died last Thursday from injuries suffered in a crash on July 23 on I-70 in Plainfield. He was just 48-years-old.
Waters’ career began in 1990, His assignments included road patrol, vice detective, East District commander, and assistant chief.
His father and two brothers also served on the force.
IMPD Chief Bryan Roach called Waters, “a master manipulator,” sand said he could convince other officers, residents, and even his family to make a decision based on the greater good.
“Jim talked Tim into buying a horse,” said Roach, recalling a story of an older brother getting over on a younger sibling. “Tim didn’t know why he was buying a horse but Tim bought a horse cuz Jim talked him into it.”
Roach paused before delivering the inevitable punch line.
“The story gets better. Jim talked Tim into giving Jim the horse.”
His closest friend on the department, Lieutenant Mike Bruin, recalled everyone on IMPD wanted to work for Waters.
“His work at the command level is legendary,” said Bruin. “That he was a great police officer first and foremost no doubt in part to the legacy of his family and police service.”
Bruin became emotional toward the end when he talked about how Jim closed communications with officers.
“Jim always closed his communications with officers by thanking them for their service and telling them it was an honor to serve with them. On behalf of the men and women of IMPD, I want to say Deputy Chief James Waters Junior, thank you for your service and the honor has been all ours.”
“The poet says, ‘Tear-filled eyes will see what dry eyes will never see,’” said Mayor Joe Hogsett. “Today through tear filled eyes our community comes together to see how one man’s life has influenced an entire city.”
Waters’ distinguished career comes with many accolades, including the Medal of Bravery, the Mayor’s Community Service Award, and a Certificate of Commendation from the Red Cross Hall of Fame.