NORWICH — At Wednesday’s common council meeting, Norwich Police Department (NPD) Officer Keith Leigh was presented with a Citation of Bravery, and a Citation of Commendation was presented to Sergeant Steven Rounds and Officers Tristan Rifanburg and Scott Laughlin.
The citations recognized the service of the officers on February 20, 2023, when Leigh was struck by a vehicle during an attempted arrest of a wanted drug suspect.
"I was at home working on a project when I received a telephone call that all chiefs dread getting," said NPD Chief Reuben Roach. "On the other end of the telephone was Sgt. Steven Rounds, and he quickly informed me that Police Officer Keith Leigh had been purposely hit by a vehicle that was occupied by an individual that the Norwich Police Department had an arrest warrant for."
"Sgt. Rounds further advised me that the suspect in the vehicle struck Officer Leigh with such force, that he was unsure what the extent of his injuries were going to be," he continued.
Leigh was taken to Wilson Memorial Hospital in Johnson City due the the severity of his injuries. The two suspects involved in the incident were located and apprehended two days later by officers with the Chenango County Sheriff's Office and New York State Police.
"A citation for bravery shall be awarded when a police officer knowingly performs an act in the line of duty which endangers themselves to serious physical injury, and when because of the nature of the action, a life may be saved, a serious crime prevented, or a person arrested who has committed a serious crime," read Roach. "Be it known that Norwich Police Officer Keith Leigh be commended for his bravery in regard to his actions taken of February 20, 2023. In accordance, I do hereby award this Citation of Bravery, given under my hand at the council chambers of the City of Norwich, on this 26th day of April, 2023."
Sgt. Rounds and Officers Rifanburg and Laughlin were also commended for their actions on the night of February 20.
"This citation for commendation shall be awarded when a police officer knowingly performs an act in the line of duty which brings credit to the Norwich Police Department, the members of this council, and the members of this community," said Roach. "Be it known that the following Norwich Police officers are awarded the Certificate of Commendation for their actions taken on February 20, 2023: Sergeant Steve Rounds, Police Officer Tristan Rifanburg, and Police Officer Scott Laughlin. In accordance I do hereby award this Citation of Commendation, given under my hand at the council chambers of the City of Norwich, on this 26th day of April, 2023."
Roach also gave accolades to the rest of the NPD staff, as well as the Chenango County Sheriff's Office and the New York State Police. He said full support and assistance was provided by the other agencies, and all NPD officers responded to the event.
"This was a night that was not only challenging for Officer Leigh, but for all of law enforcement in Chenango County. Within an hour of this incident, we had the full assistance of the Chenango County Sheriff's Office as well as the New York State Police," Roach said.
"All of the Norwich Police Officers who were off duty this night responded to the station on their own accord. There wasn't a need to call anyone in," he continued. "These fine men and women came to the call of a fellow officer who was hurt, and nothing made me more proud than seeing this."