By now, the Albany community has heard about Dougherty County police Lt. Clifford Rouse. The details of this horrific tragedy are both frightening and disturbing.
On Thursday night, a few hours before Christmas Eve, Rouse responded to an armed robbery of the Pitt Stop convenience store across from the former Cooper Rubber & Tire Co. plant on Sylvester Road. In his pursuit of the suspect, he was wounded and he later died.
Rouse is the first Dougherty County police officer to be slain in the line of duty. What a senseless act of violence: all for a few bucks. So, suddenly, there are children who no longer have their father, a wife who no longer has her husband, parents who no longer have their son, friends who no longer have their buddy, and a law enforcement community who no longer has its brave comrade.
This incident raises many scary questions that have to be answered. First and foremost, why wasn’t convicted felon Dontravious Thomas in jail where court records say he belonged on Dec. 23? This shows a crying need for the community to obtain a full-fledged, no-holds-barred probe into the judicial system’s handling not just of Thomas, but all offenders in this community. This matter proves what we suspected before Rouse’s untimely encounter with Thomas – that too many violent offenders are on the streets when they could be behind bars and, by golly, some innocent folks are going to get killed.
Albany has to say no to the gangster culture. We can no longer afford to glorify criminals and murderers. Some sickos – none from Albany, we hope – refer to Thomas as a “soldier”. He was no soldier. He was not fighting for principles or dedicated to a better society. No, he was a terrorist and destroyer and stole from members of our community and killed a peacekeeper. There is nothing about his actions that deserve glorification.
As with every murder, we feel for the bad guy’s family, but we object to his actions in every way imaginable. It is time for Albany to react. Robberies and murders don’t have to happen. They are often preventable; this one certainly was. Let’s stop the carnage now.
In the meantime, in addition to ensuring that Rouse’s death ultimately has meaning in this community, Rouse’s family needs our direct support. The Police Benevolent Foundation and the PBA of Georgia have established the Lt. Rouse Trust Fund at Regions Bank to help the Rouse family cope with losing their loved one. Donations are tax-deductible and can be made at any Regions location and online at www.pbfi.org.
Let’s knock ‘em down
The City of Albany is shelling out about $90,000 over the next two months to raze 21 dilapidated structures.
For that we say, thanks, taxpayers.
Vacant, unsafe houses ruin communities, and it’s a shame that as every year passes, so many of Albany’s neighborhoods are becoming slums. As tax expenditures go, though, we think that removing crumbling structures – and all of the criminal and health hazards they attract – is money well spent.
This endeavor along with aggressive law enforcement and nixing public corruption all are solutions to many of Albany’s much-ballyhooed downfalls. There’s much more than our town’s reputation at stake; our children’s future is on the line, too.
By Kevin Hogencamp