Constable Avasonjia Hewitt… Earning her stripes and loving it
Immaculately dressed in her police uniform, Constable Avasonjia Hewitt strides up to the Superintendent’s desk and makes a salute in the… manner. After receiving a response from her superior, she made a 90 degree turn towards me and held out her right hand accompanied by a warm greeting.
Seated, Hewitt takes off her hat and gently rests it beside her, revealing a pair of bright, dark brown eyes – eyes filled with a desire to carve out a niche for herself in the Jamaica Constabulary Force.
“I originally intended to go into full-time ministry after leaving Bible College but I don’t have the energy to become a pastor who can preach up a storm from a pulpit,” she told All Woman. “I guess I am not cut out for that sort of thing so I opted for the police force.”
Judging by her achievements to date, Ava, as she is called by friends, has more than a fair share of energy.
She was the valedictorian of the recent batch of graduates from the Jamaica Police Academy at Twickenham Park; Hewitt also received awards for the Student Displaying Best Christian Principles and Best Leadership Qualities. The St Jago High School graduate holds a Bachelor of Arts degree with Honours in Counselling Psychology which she received from Bethel Bible College in Mandeville.
According to Hewitt, she has come a far way from the shy, reserved person who was always seated at the back of the class and distancing herself from instructors at the Police Academy. This, however, did not serve its purpose as they always sought out Hewitt to answer questions or give demonstrations.
“They (the instructors) constantly kept picking on me. No matter how hard I tried avoiding their eyes, they would somehow head straight to the back and single me out,” she recalled. “At one point I got frustrated, but later I realised that they only wanted to bring out the best in me.”
“There is no such word as can’t” is a phrase Hewitt picked up at the Police Academy; it is firmly embedded in her sub-conscious and kept her going during eight months of rigorous training at Twickenham Park. That training, which she described as compact, considering the many areas to be covered, saw Hewitt’s day beginning as early as 5:00 am and ending at 10:00 pm with the last class.
“The academy was a challenging experience for me especially the physical training which included miles of running with endless push ups and sit ups,” she said. “Sometimes I felt like giving up but someone was always there challenging me to go on.
Her superior, Superintendent Rosalie McDonald-Barker attested to Hewitt’s enthusiasm, noting that she exhibited qualities that make for an outstanding police officer.
The daughter of a pastor, Reverend Winsome Kelly, Hewitt is constantly faced with concerns from fellow Christians that being a police officer will conflict with certain aspects of her faith.
“I don’t see any reason that this job should overshadow my Christianity as I firmly believe that this was what God wanted me to do and this is the career which I have chosen,” she said. “As a matter of fact, I don’t do just policing I do ‘ministry policing’ as I also spread the good news on the beat.”
Hewitt acknowledged that since joining the force, she has met several accomplished police officers who have not been highlighted as achievers, adding that reports of corruption in the force overshadowed the outstanding members of the force.
“This is just one of the things, which gives me the drive to excel as a police officer, so I always try do my best to live up to the Mission Statement of the force,” said the young constable.
After graduating from the Academy last December, Ava has been assigned to the Beat and Foot Patrol Division. Her line of duty has since taken her to various sections of the Corporate Area and Spanish Town. She said she has received mixed reactions from the public.
“Being out there on the streets, I have realised that most civilians have this perceived notion that police officers are rough, harsh individuals and when I greet them pleasantly, they seem taken aback. There are some that tend to be hostile and that’s when I use a little psychology on them to get their co-operation,” said Ava.
Hewitt says that she does not have her eyes set on joining any special division within the force at the moment, but will work hard in whichever area she is assigned.
“For now I am concentrating on learning more about the force itself and allowing God to be my guide on the job everyday,” she concluded.