By Crystal Burns
Trenton Police Chief Bill Cusson said it’s the only word to describe Ptlm. Xavier Keys.
On May 5, Keys suffered a mini stroke and a heart attack. That night, a more serious stroke knocked Keys out for seven days, but after months of intense physical, occupational and speech therapy, Keys returned to full duty at the Trenton Police Dept. Thursday afternoon.
“It’s been an incredibly long road for Xavier,” Cusson said. “He just has such grit to be able to overcome what he has the last four months. He has just worked so incredibly hard.”
In July, Keys’ neurologist cleared him for modified duty, allowing him to come back to work where he helped manage the office and completed reports and call backs.
“Being back around the guys was great,” Keys said. “They’ve been very good to me.”
He continued his physical therapy, and the department provided therapists with a job list of an officer’s essential function. Keys ran stairs wearing his full gear, spent hours on the treadmill and did the repetitive but important task of getting in and out of a car as well as a host of other exercises such as flipping tires. At the end of August, the department sent Keys to Jackson for a judgment shoot. His final task was qualifying at the gun range.
Keys said his rehabilitation was grueling, with the most difficult things being learning to walk and talk normally again, but getting back to work was well worth the effort.
“Sitting in the house, I was going crazy,” Keys admitted.
Cusson said in addition to welcoming back Keys, a 2005 graduate of Peabody High School, the department is also giving him back to the community.
“This community knows Xavier Keys,” Cusson said. “What an incredible blessing it is to have this young man back.”
Lt. Eric Horne, second shift supervisor, and Mayor Ricky Jackson shared similar thoughts about Keys’ recovery. Both visited him in the hospital and said they feared he would never wear a police uniform again.
“You’re an inspiration to all of us,” Horne said. “We love you and thank God you’re back.”
Jackson took the opportunity to thank all of the officers.
“I don’t tell you enough,” he said. “You’re a great asset, and I appreciate you very much.”
Alderman Rickey Graves also complimented the department.
“This is one of the best departments around,” he said. “One of the best smiles in the department just came back. I’m very thankful, very proud Xavier is ready to come back.”