ALBANY, GA (WALB) – Nearly a thousand law enforcement members, family, and friends from all over the state gathered at a Northwest Albany church for the funeral of Lt. Cliff Rouse.
Rouse was gunned down Thursday night as he responded to an armed robbery at the Pit Stop on Sylvester Road just outside the Albany city limits.
Tuesday, friends and fellow officers described Lt. Cliff Rouse as a dedicated officer and father.
Lt. Cliff Rouse's family paused at the entrance to Gillionville Baptist Church exchanging embraces with fellow officers and Chief Don Cheek before going in. A riderless horse stood at the driveway.
"It's tradition for officers who have fallen in the line of duty," said Joe Monzie, a retired Dougherty County Police Officer.
Fellow officers hope Rouse will be remembered for his bravery and dedication to his job.
"People don't realize we're not out here for the pay and the glory. We're out here because we feel we need to serve our community and the ultimate sacrifice was an officer Thursday night made that sacrifice," said Lt. Thomas Jackson of the Dougherty County Police.
Hundreds of law officers turned Gillionville Road under construction into a make-shift parking lot. Cars from East Point, Fayette County, Atlanta and all over the state joined the procession. Officers say it's not just Dougherty County that lost an officer, they've lost a brother in the fight against crime.
"Anytime an officer goes down in the law enforcement community kind of pulls together and this one is even more special to me because I know the guy," said Metter Police Chief Bobby Hooper.
Hooper remembered working with Rouse here in Albany. "He was a by the book kind of guy, everybody liked him and loved him."
Along with Lee County Sheriff Reggie Rachals who met Rouse this time last year searching Lake Chehaw. "I met him about a year ago on Christmas Eve, out there on the Leesburg Bridge and he was a good officer."
At the end of an hour long service, members of the Dougherty County Police gave a final salute as Rouse's flag draped coffin was loaded for its final ride. A sea of blue police lights led the way down Gillionville Road for more than a mile toward Lt. Rouse's final resting place in Newton.
His badge number 27 permanently retired in his honor. Rouse was awarded the Medal of Valor, Purple Heart medal, and Community Service Medal, all posthumously.