Farewell to a 'hero'
Federation chairman wants 'painful' deterrent for those who attack cops, as Biggs laid to restSunday, July 19, 2020
BY KIMBERLEY HIBBERT
CHAIRMAN of the Jamaica Police Federation, Sergeant Patrae Rowe wants a “painful” deterrent for individuals who attack the police.
“Let us ensure that an attack on the police is seen as an attack on the State, [and implement] legislative and punitive sanctions that will announce a painful deterrent to those who believe that an attack on the police is okay,” he said.
Rowe was speaking at the service of thanksgiving for the life of Detective Corporal Dane Biggs, whose life was cut short on June 12 in a gun attack in Horizon Park, St Catherine. The attack also claimed the life of Constable Decardo Hylton and Superintendent Leon Clunis, who died three weeks later on June 30.
Further, Rowe voiced his disappointment with the measures in place for funeral gatherings amid COVID-19.
“Minister, it's a bit unsettling for us that come next week 280 people are able to attend a party and a concert and only 50 people are allowed to pay tribute to a hero,” he pointed directly to Minister of National Security, Dr Horace Chang who was in attendance. “The tribute we pay to our dead heroes reflect the value this country places on service and people who have made sacrifices for this country,” he said.
“Immortalise the memories of our colleagues by erecting a monument in no less a place than the National Heroes' Park to pay homage to their service. Cut the red tape and bureaucracy in processing benefits to beneficiaries of our fallen, and implement programmes to support grieving spouses and family members...For too long successive governments have used the police as pawns, only to discard us at our most vulnerable moments,” Rowe added.
Rowe also challenged the Government to set the posture that demands respect for public servants in order to halt attacks on members of the security forces.
“For too long, the killing of our colleagues have been met with nonchalance [and] their funeral void of the presence of our employers...If our colleague died for anything, let it be for the reason that his death provoked the consciousness of [the] Government. Let the Parliament and heads of government know that it cannot be business as usual.”
The funeral service, held at Evangel Temple Deliverance Centre, Hellshire Main Road, St Catherine, saw over 100 somewhat physically distant individuals inside the building. However, on the outside, hundreds of well-wishers and members of the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) gathered to pay their final tribute to Biggs, a man they held in high esteem.
Shamir Biggs, widow of the deceased, remembered her husband (who hailed from Warwick, Manchester) in a video tribute as a sentimental man who often wrote her love letters and sent printed photographs over their 10-year relationship. Overall, she said he made her proud.
“I was proud of him because I saw how much he wanted to serve and protect. I knew training wasn't easy but with his level of determination I also knew he would have been successful. His desire was to help make Jamaica a crime-free country. He had a heart for poor people and always wanted to help those less fortunate,” Biggs said.
Prime Minister Andrew Holness, whose tribute was played by video, said “We sometimes take for granted the real sacrifice our officers make. Officers Clunis, Biggs and Hylton left their homes to police our streets and communities and were tragically taken from their families and friends. Today, as we lay Dane to rest we recall that he, like his colleagues, was of good character and made his family and the JCF proud. He lost his life in an immeasurable quality, but his death is not in vain.”
Police Commissioner Major General Anthony Anderson remembered Biggs as a man who was dedicated to his job, did not need encouragement to work diligently, and had wishes for a crime-free Jamaica.
“His idea and wish for the country were simple — it needs to be a country where people don't need to be afraid, don't need to look over their shoulders, and [can] go about their business in safety and peace...And so, although he will no longer be a part of that, we who are left to honour his life can be a part of that and we can use that to motivate our actions,” Anderson said.
Dr Horace Chang, minister of national security, said choosing to be a law enforcement officer is indeed an honourable calling and society must show respect members of the security forces.
Other tributes were given by Cross Keys High, Caribbean Maritime University, the Accountant General's Department, the JCF Choir and Band; Police Officers' Association; St Catherine North Police Division; National Intelligence Bureau (NIB), and the Security and Intelligence Branch. In addition, Custos of St Catherine Jeffrey McKenzie and Fitz Jackson, Member of Parliament for St Catherine Southern, offered tributes to Biggs.
The eulogy, read by Acting Assistant Commissioner of Police Paulette Green and head of NIB, Deputy Superintendent Orlando Lewis, chronicled Biggs' life as a student at Cross Keys High where he was head boy up until his days at Caribbean Maritime University, where he was a student until his passing. In addition, Biggs was remembered for his string of achievements in the Divisional Intelligence Unit.
“He was awarded the Most Outstanding Divisional Intelligence Unit (DIU) Operative in 2019. He was presented with commendations for outstanding and dedicated service at DIU in 2016, and received certificates of appreciation for sterling contribution and dedication to numerous training courses completed, to the deserving promotion to detective corporal in December 2019...Biggs was at the forefront of [the] crime-fighting revolution which has brought about change to Spanish Town and Jamaica. He was a hero for the way he lived and what he helped to accomplish,” Green said.
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