ALBANY, Ga. -- Showing signs of both physical and emotional exhaustion, Dougherty County Police Chief Don Cheek sighed as he tried to describe Lt. Cliff Rouse, an officer who just a few hours before had been fatally shot while trying to apprehend a robbery suspect.
"He was truly an exemplary officer," Cheek said. "He was an 18-year veteran of the department, a shift commander and an officer that was a fine man to work with."
Rouse was shot to death while chasing a suspicious person near the scene of an armed robbery Thursday night. Shot twice, the bullets hit below his ballistics vest, Cheek said.
A veteran of the U.S. Army, Rouse joined the Dougherty County Police Department in 1992 as a patrol officer and distinguished himself quickly among his peers.
In 1997, Rouse was tapped as the DCP's honoree as Exchange Club of Albany's "Officer of the Year" -- an annual award that is given by the club to one officer from each of Albany and Dougherty County's law enforcement units.
Chief Bill Kicklighter, head of the department in 1997, told a Herald reporter at the event that Rouse was one of the department's best patrol officers at handling aggressive traffic, writing more tickets that year than anyone else in the department.
A family man, Rouse and his wife were the parents of two children, one 13-year-old and one 6-year-old.
Cheek said during a news conference Friday morning that Rouse's contemporaries at the department were grieving over the loss, noting that counselors and other resources were being made available.
Matthews Funeral Home is handling the arrangements, although no funeral plans have been finalized.