When Tracy Swinney heard that four police officers in York County were shot in an ambush in January, it wasn’t just a news story for his family.
Swinney is the brother of Clemson head football coach Dabo Swinney, and head of security for Clemson’s football team. But more, Tracy Swinney is a retired Alabama police officer.
Tracy Swinney said he will always be a cop. When fellow cops are shot, he hurts. And so does his brother.
Coach Swinney and Tracy Swinney did what they could to help. They reached out, then sent footballs to the cops who are Clemson Tigers fans to try to make the unbearable a little less grim.
Dabo Swinney signed and sent a collectible Clemson football inside a clear case to York County Sheriff’s Deputy Chris Doty, twin brother of Detective Mike Doty. Mike Doty was the officer among the four wounded in January who died from his injuries. Dabo Swinney also sent a signed football to Sgt. Buddy Brown of the sheriff’s office, one of the three other officers wounded in the incident.
Handwritten words are on the footballs: “All in” – the Clemson football motto. And, “Stay strong & keep the faith. Thank you for your service.”
Signed, “Dabo Swinney.”
“When an officer is wounded on duty, it affects our family,” Tracy Swinney said by phone from Clemson. “My brother lived it like I did when I was a police officer. He knows what these officers do, which is put their lives on the line every day.”
Tracy Swinney even called Buddy Brown as Brown was released from the hospital, telling Brown that the Clemson football family was with him.
An officer who worked with Tracy Swinney was shot in 2009. Tracy Swinney knows that the officers in York County are going through a tough time.
“I told Buddy Brown that we are all so proud of what he and all the officers who were injured stand for,” Tracy Swinney said. “Our program is modeled on love, care and service – just like what officers give the public every day.”
Tracy Swinney called the officers who were shot, including sheriff’s Sgt. Randy Clinton and York Police Sgt. Kyle Cummings, “absolute public servants.”
The suspect in the shootings of the four officers, Christian McCall, 47, of York, remains hospitalized in good condition after he was wounded in the shootout that started late on Jan. 15 and continued into the early hours of Jan. 16.
Chris Doty and Brown were sent the balls because both are big Clemson fans, said York County Sheriff Kevin Tolson. Mike Doty was a Clemson fan, too, Tolson said.
The sheriff’s office, and the officers, appreciate that Dabo Swinney, his brother and the team reached out, Tolson said.
“The fact that coach Swinney, who is a figurehead in South Carolina, would take the time to sign and send the balls to the officers speaks to his care, compassion and concern for the officers of our state,” Tolson said.
Tolson is a University of South Carolina graduate. But far more than any sport, he is a fan of Dabo Swinney, the man.
“I know Tracy Swinney served as an officer in Alabama,” Tolson said. “And coach Swinney is a stand-up guy. I am a Carolina alum, but I sure am a fan of Dabo Swinney.”
Tolson said the actions of the Swinney brothers at Clemson are another in a long line of support the sheriff’s office and police officers have received since the shooting.
“Once again, folks in South Carolina show who we are,” Tolson said. “We are a state where people care about our officers. The coach at Clemson showed that is true for all of us.”