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Bruce named Officer of Year

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By Jennifer Emert - bio | email

ALBANY, GA (WALB) –  The Dougherty County police officer who nabbed the suspect in the murder of a fellow police officer was honored Monday as the officer of the year.

Dougherty County Sheriff Kevin Sproul recognized Corporal Tommy Bruce for the apprehension the suspect believed to have killed Dougherty County Police Lieutenant Cliff Rouse. Bruce rushed into a Sylvester Road mobile home park searching for the gunman after finding Rouse shot. Bruce called it a team effort, and salutes his fellow officers in the honor.

Corporal Tommy Bruce is the Dougherty County Sheriff Office's Officer of the Year. He was recognized before the county commission. While Bruce is honored he doesn't consider himself a hero, just an officer, doing his job.

 "Everyone else was out there trying to do the same thing, trying to apprehend the suspect I happened to be the fortunate one to find him," said Bruce.

Bruce found Dontavious Thomas hiding under a mobile home, after getting information he'd tried twice to get a ride out of the area. He walked slowly toward the mobile home, easing up on Thomas.

"Oh yeah I was ready, that's the thing though when you put on this uniform you know what can happen so, but I was ready if he had started shooting hopefully I was ready to shoot back," said Bruce.

Despite finding Lt. Rouse shot in the Pit Stop parking lot, Corporal Bruce didn't think twice about rushing into the neighboring mobile home park. That's simple, Lt. Rouse wasn't just a fellow officer, he was a friend.

"I'd have been there all night if I had to, the motivation, it just motivate you," said Bruce.

While there was plenty of backup, Bruce spent several moments alone with Thomas.

"Even though we had a perimeter for him he was there wit that individual for several minutes not knowing whether that individuals gun had been completely unloaded, discarded whether he had it on his person at that time so he put himself in a line of danger also," said Dougherty County Sheriff Kevin Sproul.

He's also forgone promotions to remain on the night shift. "I'm just a grunt at heart, I like the night shift work because you get involved with more stuff."

Corporal Bruce believes officers would have eventually caught up with Thomas had he not been apprehended that night. In the end he was just glad he could help. 

The Dougherty County Commission asked Administrator Richard Crowdis to investigate what it would take to name a portion of Highway 91 in honor of Lt. Cliff Rouse. Commissioner Jack Stone said the county needs to do something to honor his service.

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