BISHOP Gary Welsh said it best: "The entire Jamaica Constabulary Force is here, except for those guarding prisoners and issuing traffic tickets."
That summed up the outpouring of support and love for slain retired Senior Superintendent of Police Anthony Everal 'Tony' Hewitt whose colourful service of thanksgiving yesterday at the Boulevard Baptist Church in St Andrew pulled hundreds of police personnel — retired and active — along with people from all sectors of the local and international landscape.
Hewitt, 69, was shot four times in the Red Hills Road area of North Central St Andrew on the afternoon of September 16 by gunmen and later died at the Kingston Public Hospital.
"He was a gentle giant who meant different things to different people," said Hewitt's former colleague, retired assistant commissioner Osbourne Dyer, in one of six tributes to Hewitt.
"A lady once told him one day that he had a personality that would break the back of a rat bat. He was passionate about his job and he dedicated his life to serving his country," Dyer said.
A former colleague at the Flying Squad division of the Criminal Investigation Branch, Artice Brown Getton, a retired superintendent of police, labelled Hewitt as "one of the greatest detectives that Jamaica had seen and known".
"His name would be called in every nook and cranny of the society with love, respect and fear. He believed in hard work, was caring, loving and kind and was a wizard in crime fighting. His was a rare production in crime fighting — a cool, calm demeanour that attracted everyone to him," Brown Getton said.
Retired deputy commissioner of police Sam McKay, who, like Dyer was associated with Hewitt from the 1960s, said the deceased had a black book, which he called the forerunner to the BlackBerry, which contained information on criminals that he used to solve many crimes.
Mourners heard of Hewitt's love for dominoes and of his membership in a group which met on Wednesdays to play the board game.
"He picked me up and we went to play dominoes the week that he died," retired Director of Public Prosecutions and head of the University of Technology's Law School Kent Pantry said.
"He had a unique way of causing entertainment, by using words like "death trap", "rat trap" and "death wish II", when he set up a double to be killed in a domino game, Pantry said, while lauding Hewitt's "professional approach to investigation" while he served as a policeman.
Hewitt was employed to the Firearm Licensing Authority (FLA) at the time of his death. That agency also added its tribute, with former permanent secretary in the Ministry of National Security and FLA official Gilbert Scott describing Hewitt as "one who had a remarkable spirit, with a tremendous sense of responsibility".
"Tony is truly irreplaceable," Scott stated.
Attorney-at-law George Belnavis eulogised Hewitt as a fearless law enforcer who had a knack for getting on with people.
"Tony was a teacher, mentor and master of his craft. He was like a mobile library — the best of the best," said Belnavis who, like Pantry, was a member of Hewitt's domino club.
"He knew how to treat people without creating a division and in crime fighting he would go to places where others will not want to fly over," Belnavis said.
Delivering the sermon, Rev Dr Stephen Jennings urged people to "get back to the way of God".
"We have replaced righteousness with unrighteousness and justice with injustice," Rev Jennings said.
Hewitt, who leaves behind widow Nerissa and six children, was buried at the Dovecot Memorial Park in St Catherine.