Norwich — Police Chief Louis J. Fusaro Sr. says he cares about the health and welfare of Officer Jonathan Ley, and all his officers, as if they were his own sons and daughters.
With Ley still in a bed at Yale-New Haven Hospital recovering from multiple gunshot wounds, Fusaro said at a press conference Tuesday that the thoughts and prayers of Ley's fellow officers are with him.
"This is something you don't want to see happen to one of your kids," Fusaro said with an emotional crack in his voice.
Norwich officers were in a somber mood Tuesday, sleep-deprived either from a night spent at a standoff with a Norwich gunman or from an overnight vigil at Ley's bedside.
Crisis counselors from the city's employee assistance program were made available to officers for a debriefing of the incident. The Norwich Police Chaplains Unit also was on hand.
The only good news of the day came when Ley's condition was upgraded overnight and again Tuesday, going from critical to serious to fair. Ley's family joined Norwich officers at the hospital throughout the night Monday. Ley, father of a 2-year-old son, was talking and helping everyone stay upbeat, Fusaro said.
Fusaro said the investigation into the standoff, which ended with a self-inflicted gunshot wound by gunman Jason Razzino, was being handled by the state police major crime unit and the New London County State's Attorney's Office.
"The incident's over but much work remains," Fusaro said. "At this point, our priority is the health and welfare of Officer Jonathan Ley."
Speaking from memory, police say Ley is the first Norwich officer to be shot since Officer Vic Darr was injured by a shotgun blast while pursuing a bank robber in downtown Norwich in the late 1960s or early 1970s.
Ley, a 38-year-old Norwich native who was hired by the department in 1998, is well respected by his peers and has of late become the face of the department for candidates and new recruits. For the past two years, he has worked as a background investigator with the department's recruitment, selections and training division, attending numerous job fairs in the department's ongoing recruitment effort.
Ley has served in numerous department capacities, including boat captain and trainer, and mountain bike instructor, and is a certified police instructor who has been involved in regional training in areas of police batons, pepper spray, handcuffing, and arrest and control.
He is also known as a fitness fanatic — he works with new recruits during fitness tests and is part of the annual Special Olympics law enforcement torch run.
"He's a dedicated officer who takes the recruitment job very seriously — like everything else he does here," Norwich Capt. Patrick Daley said. "He's super, super committed."
Fusaro said Ley was the recipient of a 2004 lifesaving award and an exceptional service medal in 2008, and has received numerous commendations and exemplary service commentaries from citizens.
"He's a pleasure to be around," Fusaro said.
A Norwich Free Academy graduate, Ley served from 1992 to 1996 in the U.S. Coast Guard, where he received military qualifications as a boarding officer and law enforcement officer.
As a Coast Guard reservist, he was called to active duty several times, including during the days following the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, in 2003 in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, and in 2009 with the Coast Guard Port Security unit in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.