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Dougherty police deserve county's support

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Lt. Cliff Rouse

EDITOR'S NOTE: Following is a statement that Jackie Rouse, mother of the late Lt. Cliff Rouse, made to the Dougherty County Commission on Monday. She asked that it be published as a guest column.

We are Tommy and Jackie Rouse, the parents of Lt. Cliff Rouse, the Dougherty County police officer who was killed on Dec. 23, 2010 in the line of duty. It is exactly 544 days today. He died protecting the rights and freedoms of the citizens of Dougherty County. These are rights that he believed in as an officer that every individual is entitled to as a citizen of this county or any other county.

Now I am not going to go into all the history about our son because the legacy he has left behind surely speaks for him, as you all know. I will say this: My son was proud to be an officer with the Dougherty County Police Department, and he knew every day when he put on that uniform, his protective gear and that brass badge he was facing imminent danger. But on the other hand, he was true to the oath he had taken and proudly served this county.

Lt. Cliff Rouse believed in the protection of citizens from crime and that they were all entitled to the rights and freedom to enjoy without the threats. Every county and state is riddled with crime, and all you have to do is read a newspaper or listen to any local or national news to know what we have become.

We received so many cards and phone calls after his death informing us of things he did beyond the call of duty, but that is how DCP trains their officers. They are part of Dougherty County's finest. You see, I am partial to DCP and have been for almost 21 years. When Lt. Rouse became an officer, we became his second family and for five years before he had a family of his own. Many family gatherings were scheduled around his working hours.

The Dougherty County Police Department has been an agency for more than 80 years, and you commissioners sit here today to decide the fate of this agency. This agency has worked the last four years with no pay increase. They work with obsolete equipment, vehicles with over 200,00 miles and they are short-staffed. Many of the officers have left or they are leaving because other agencies can offer more than DCP can give them. Many of these officers have second jobs to help accommodate their living expenses. Now, I personally know about furlough days, no pay increases and having to trim budgets, but in my job those cuts did not come at cutting the service to the public.

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J.D. Sumner

Dougherty County Police Chief Don Cheek, left, speaks with Jackie and Tommy Rouse before the start of Monday’s Dougherty County Commission meeting. Jackie Rouse, the mother of slain DCPD officer Lt. Clifford Rouse, asked commissioners not to do anything that would harm the DCPD as they continue their budget discussions.

I don't pay property taxes in Dougherty County, but I do pay sales tax because I frequently shop here. I live in a county that has less than 4,000 residents and all of those residents do not own property, so it is left up to the few of us to pay taxes. I am like every other citizen when I get my tax notice. I cringe, fuss about it, complain and do what other people do. I do not like to pay taxes, but I pay them. These taxes are used to fund our county, and when I need a public servant I know they are there for me to offer the protection they themselves are sworn to.

As you sit here, you have to know that you are scraping the bottom of the barrel when you start cutting police officers, firemen and ambulance service. When you have less patrol officers in an area, you just open the door for more crime. It does not have to be at night; they have become brazen enough to commit crimes in broad, open daylight.

DCP officers have worked together as a family, and they pull together in their times of need. I have seen it first-hand when they lost a fellow officer. They are well-trained and take this job seriously. I am asking you as a staunch supporter of DCP that you reconsider your options and leave this agency as one of Dougherty County's finest. These citizens in the areas patrolled by DCP are well-deserved individuals who are entitled to the rights and protection taken by the oath of a police officer. As you know, Lee County just buried one of its finest (who'd been) protecting our freedom in the United States. My son died protecting the citizens of Dougherty County. Those who complain about increased property taxes, are they going to be the ones who complain about the crime in their area and no protection or are they going to complain about response time to a crime because the agency is short-staffed or will they see a crime in progress or another dead officer in their yards? Every county and state has had to cut the trim budgets, but they found monies from other cuts to fund the public servants. Again, I am asking you as a supporter of DCP to weigh all of your options.

As I said, I don't give a lot to Dougherty in money, but I gave my all. Tommy and I gave our son to the Dougherty County Police Department and to the citizens of Dougherty County. He died doing a job that he truly loved. His wife, Christine, his children, Braxton and Bradley Lynn, gave the ultimate sacrifice also. We, as the Rouse family, stand behind this department with our heart and soul. No other family should have to face the loss of a loved one in such a tragic way. I assume that each of you have children and if you do, never fail to say "I love you," hug them, kiss them no matter the age, just always be there for them. Life is too short, and you never know. It could be the last chance you have with them, and if something happens you will cherish that time and your memories.

Next, commissioners, rally behind your departments. Pat them on the shoulder, shake their hands, tell them what a good job they are doing and always pray for their safety. Police officers, firemen and ambulance personnel are always in danger. The next call could be for you.

Jackie and Tommy Rouse are residents of Newton.

Comments

tocar 2 years, 3 months ago

What a loving tribute from a Mother! I agree with everything that Mrs. Rouse has said. The last areas our commissioners need to cut is in public safety, fireman and ambulance personnel. You may need them. I have had reason to call all three during the last several years and I am so appreciative that they were there for my family in our times of need. The citizens of Dougherty County have spoken their feelings regarding these areas. Please listen to them if you don't ever iisten to anything else.

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Kay523 2 years, 3 months ago

Tocar, you are right - Ewell Lyle, Republican Commissioner, you are wrong to suggest cutting the DCP in half and/or merging them with the Sheriff's Dept. You are up for re-election in 2014 - this will come back to haunt you.

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Progressive 2 years, 3 months ago

Kay523 - you have been misinformed, or do not understand the facts. Commissioner Lyle did not recommend cutting the DCP in half. He recommended the DCP be combined with the Sherriff's Office so that duplicated services are reduced to help find ways to prevent excessive increases in our property taxes. For example, duplicated services equates to having 2 dispatch units, and 2 investigative units. It was also a way to have the DCP move out of a very old and deteriorating building. These are prudent and viable expense reductions in a time when there is no more money. Commissioner Lyle seems to be the only one trying to find ways to prevent raising taxes. Making tough decisions to do this should be appreciated and not condemned.

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Cartman 2 years, 3 months ago

I love DCP. I think they are the most professional group of LEO's in Dougherty County. And Clifford Rouse was as fine a man as you would ever meet. However, I was not aware that anyone was talking about cutting DCP. I thought we were talking about merging them into the Sheriff's Dept which has jurisdiction over the exact same area. It avoids duplication. I don't understand the problem. Do they have something against Sheriff Sproul? He is a fine man. He would be great to work for.

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agonized 2 years, 3 months ago

I think I remember hearing that with the proposed merge, several jobs would be lost from DCP. But I'm not absolutely sure about that. I think that is what Mrs. Rouse is referring to. In any event, it's a very moving tribute, and I'm sure it had to be hard to write and even harder to speak. God bless their family.

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J.D._Sumner 2 years, 3 months ago

What she's referring to has become known as "Plan B." It was a scenario proposed by the county administrator when members of the Dougherty County Finance Committee members asked him for alternatives to the 2-mill tax increase.

For clarity, the county doesn't really have "One" budget. It has a series of budgets that receive funding from a variety of sources, but the three main funds are the General Fund, the Special Services District Fund and the Solid Waste Enterprise Fund.

The General fund is the largest and funds the services received county wide but not exclusively to one place or another. For instance the sheriff's office (the largest part of the budget) is funded by the general fund because the Sheriff operates the jail, protects the court system and serves warrants and court documents throughout the county.

The Special Services District is essentially the unincorporated portion of the county. Within this fund are really two main items. The Dougherty County Police Department (because they mostly serve the unincorporated area, although they can come within the city limits as well) and the Fire Services Agreement reached with the city to avoid duplication of services. The DCP budget is $3.1 million, the Fire Services Budget (for now) is $3.1 million. The total budget for the SSD is $7.something million. The scraps go to fund street lights and recreation.

The Solid Waste Enterprise Fund basically covers the landfill and is an enterprise fund, meaning that it's not supported by your property taxes normally. Instead, people who use the landfill, like the city of Albany, pay "tipping" fees.

So, when it comes to the SSD (which is the fund in which commissioners are considering raising taxes) there is really only one place left to cut. Once you cut street lights, Fire Services and Recreation are each governed by a contract with the city (that's functional consolidation by the way).

So what Crowdis was doing was looking at the other places to cut (DCP) and coming up with the amount needed to generate enough to cover the deficit in the SSD.

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chinaberry25 2 years, 3 months ago

The DCP chief's job would be lost for sure. I am sure that DCP are very competent because they love Philema Road. That is where they are getting most of their income. But that is going to be lost with raise of speed limit. Now we won't need 3 cops at one time patrolling the area. There is almost no crime out that way, so they could only be looking for the awful speeder.

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Bubbavet_rureel 2 years, 3 months ago

The DCSS teachers need our support also, we need a story on the info below:

APS reinstates a dozen teachers caught up in cheating scandal

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Abytaxpayer 2 years, 3 months ago

BVR here is your story...Don't choke on the Facts:

Thursday, Atlanta Public Schools reinstated 12 of the 180 teachers implicated in a July 2011 investigation that uncovered perhaps the largest educator cheating scandal in history. 10 educators whose recommended firing has been upheld by a tribunal.

Attorney Bob Wilson, one of the lead investigators, spoke to the AJC Thursday when the reinstatements were announced and said he stands by the investigation's results. If anything, he said, the report fell short of identifying all educators who participated in cheating.

But standards of evidence must be met in order to fire teachers, and that’s not what the investigation set out to do.

"The investigation uncovered massive cheating," he said. "Does that mean all the standards that need to be met for the purposes of a tribunal hearing can be met? Not necessarily.

That doesn't change our findings."

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