'We are all heroes'
Cops invested with Medal of HonourTuesday, October 19, 2021
BY ALICIA DUNKLEY-WILLIS
THEY used their bodies as human shields for their two injured colleagues who were shot by alleged cop killer Damion Hamilton on June 12 last year.
A year later, that selfless act saw their country, on the day it celebrates its heroes, numbering them among the gallant.
Constables Michael Beckford and Delano Dunn were yesterday among three members of the uniformed forces to receive the Medal of Honour for Gallantry for “demonstrating great courage in circumstances of extreme danger”.
The men were part of the team which confronted Hamilton in Cooreville Gardens, St Andrew, after he had earlier that morning subjected a police team to a deadly assault in Horizon Park, St Catherine.
In that incident four cops — District Constable Lothan Richards, Superintendent Leon Clunis, Corporal Dane Biggs and Constable Decardo Hylton — were among a team of police personnel who came under heavy attack during a special operation to accost the armed criminal. In the terrifying incident Biggs and Hylton were shot dead while Richards and Clunis were seriously injured and hospitalised. Clunis, however, died on June 30. The three were last year awarded posthumously while Richards accepted his award in person last Heroes' Day.
Later the same day, the 39-year-old Hamilton was tracked to Cooreville Gardens where he engaged another set of cops in a shoot-out, injuring two of them before he was fatally shot.
Yesterday the policemen, in a pre-recorded vignette aired during the virtual affair, detailed those moments.
“Officers were under attack by gunmen in the Horizon Park, St Catherine, area. We received information that two officers were shot and injured. We were briefed and we went to a premises somewhere in Cooreville Gardens. This gunman decided to take on the policemen with the gun. Two of my colleagues were shot and injured. Constable Dunn and I stepped in, provided cover for these two injured police officers while neutralising the threat,” Beckford said.
“It's an honour for me to receive such high acknowledgement from the country. I just want to dedicate this medal to all other hard-working police officers out there. We are all heroes in our own right,” he noted further.
His colleague, Constable Dunn, in recollecting the events that day, said, “To receive this medal of honour for gallantry is a tremendous feeling. Out there doing the work every day, putting our lives at risk and to be recognised and being rewarded is a tremendous feeling, a good feeling, a proud feeling.”
For the second consecutive year the Ceremony of Investiture and Presentation of National Honours and Awards was a virtual affair, given the restriction on gatherings because of the novel coronavirus pandemic.
The presentations, which were pre-recorded, were made at King's House in St Andrew, as customary. A total of 215 Jamaicans were recognised in the various categories for their service and loyalty to country.