Waco police Sgt. W. Patrick Swanton is set to retire March 27, after almost 40 years of service with the Waco Police Department.

After an almost 40-year career with the Waco Police Department, Sgt. W. Patrick Swanton is set to retire at the end of March.

Swanton, 58, publicly announced Thursday his intentions to retire effective March 27. He joined the department as a 19-year-old cadet in October 1980 and has served as the department's spokesman for the past nine years. Swanton said he plans to step in as a partner with a Florida-based company that teaches and trains police, attorneys, judges, military members and others on counseling domestic and sexual assault victims.

Waco Police Chief Ryan Holt said he has worked with Swanton for a long time and has a lot of respect for him and his life of dedication to public service, including his time as the public face of the department.

"In our profession, it is not uncommon for people to stay 35 to 40 years, and we have a number of people who do that. But when you think of people who have devoted what is really their entire adult life to public service, you need to take a step back and recognize how significant that is," Holt said. "I am in awe of our people who dedicate that much of their life to public service and the profession of law enforcement, and certainly in Pat's case he is leaving the profession better than he found it."

Swanton's announcement Thursday comes a month after the department announced plans to hire a civilian spokesperson by May. Swanton was going to become supervisor of the Community Outreach unit, a position left vacant with the retirement of Sgt. Mark Mitzel.

"I knew I was fixing to be gone shortly and I didn't want to move into a new position, get everyone settled, make changes and then all of a sudden have the department need to break in a new sergeant," Swanton said. "I am not happy with the (realignment), I don't like it, I don't think it's a good move for the city to do and I don't think the citizens will warm as much to a civilian PIO (public information officer) as they do a sworn PIO. … But that really didn't have anything to do with me leaving."

Swanton said although he is retiring, he will be dedicated to his new education role and plans to travel across the country and internationally in his new position. He said he also plans to travel with his wife of 29 years, Shirley.

"Shirley and I are absolutely going to enjoy life," Swanton said. "There are lots of things that we want to see and do, but we are Waco-based, love the community in which we live and I still anticipate having some input in and around Waco on occasion."

Kristin Hoppa has been covering public safety and breaking news for the Tribune-Herald since January 2016. She worked in Northwest Missouri covering crime-related issues before her move to Central Texas. She is a University of Kansas graduate.

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