Derrick Smith, MPs pay tribute to late close protection officerThursday, July 01, 2021
BY BALFORD HENRY
Former Minister of National Security and former Leader of the House of Representatives Derrick Smith yesterday expressed deep regret over the death of Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) Close Protection Officer (CPO) Sergeant Marlon Smith, who died in a motor vehicle crash in Trelawny last Friday.
The late security officer joined Smith's close protection team at the Ministry of National Security when he was appointed to the Bruce Golding-led Cabinet in 2007.
He stayed with the former minister through to 2016 when he returned as a minister without portfolio in the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) and Leader of the House of Representatives in the Andrew Holness Administration.
After 11 years with Smith, the close protection officer was transferred to the security team for the current Minister of Finance and the Public Service Dr Nigel Clarke, who succeeded Smith as Member of Parliament (MP) for St Andrew North Western, in January 2018. He served as CPO for Clarke up to the time of his death.
In a message on Tuesday recalling his attachment to the CPO, the former minister said that the late police officer was more like a member of his family, and a very close friend of his sons.
“He epitomised the ideal police officer, after joining the team in 2007 as a corporal, and he remained after he was promoted to sergeant. He was like family to me. He was a Smith in both name and nature, and he was very close to my sons and my grandson. It was like we were all relatives,” the former minister said.
“I don't remember him ever going on leave or missing a day from work, when he worked with me and, to me, he was a very disciplined and an outstanding member of the police force. We have been taking it very hard and my entire family is mourning,” Smith told the Jamaica Observer.
Smith's former colleagues in the House of Representatives expressed similar sentiments about the late police officer during Tusday's sitting of the House.
Prime Minister Andrew Holness recalled that he was the head boy at St Catherine High School in 1989, when Sergeant Smith was a student there.
“I am just at a loss, and would like to join in, just to point out the wonderful spirit of the individual. Everyone who knew him would have come to love and respect him. It is such a tragic and great loss,” Holness said.
He also used the opportunity to applaud the service of the other members of the Protective Services arm of the Jamaica Constabulary Force, who are also “sworn to protect and serve”.
Dr Clarke said the death of the CPO was as an “inexplicable and devastating event, which was “deeply saddening and tragic”.
“It is a significant loss and the circumstances make it an unbearable one,” Dr Clarke said as he concluded a statement to the House on Jamaica's poverty levels.
Opposition Leader Mark Golding said that he was really “traumatised and shocked” by the news of the policeman's death. He also expressed his “heartfelt” condolence on behalf of the Opposition to Smith's family.
Minister of Education, Youth and Information Fayval Williams and Opposition spokesman on finance Julian Robinson, who noted that he represents the constituency of St Andrew South Eastern, where the CPO lived, also expressed regret at his passing.
Sergeant Smith died in a blazing accident in Trelawny, while escorting Dr Clarke, along with other security personnel, from Kingston to Montego Bay, St James.
It was reported that, on reaching the Coopers Pen main road, his vehicle collided with a Honda CR-V and then crashed into a flatbed trailer carrying construction equipment. The impact sent Sergeant Smith's vehicle off the roadway, into the bushes, before bursting into flames.
The police were alerted and all three drivers of the motor vehicles were transported to hospital where Sergeant Smith was pronounced dead and the other drivers were treated and released.
The Force's Chaplaincy and Welfare Units are providing support to the family members and colleagues of Sergeant Smith.