Noting that the Regional Police Training Centre was hit hard by the recent death of recruit Darwin Downes, graduates and leaders at the training facility this evening paid sterling tribute to their fallen colleague.
Downes, whose death by gunshot injury almost two weeks ago shocked the island, his family and friends as well as his fellow colleagues at the Centre, received a post-humous award for Best in Physical Training – a decoration that was similarly awarded to Royal Virgin Islands Police Force graduate Jillian Matthias – in the 137th Passing Out Parade for recruits from Barbados, Anguilla and British Virgin Islands.
Acting Commissioner of Police Tyrone Griffith paid tribute to the deceased man noting that he had mixed emotions, as this was a difficult time for Downes’ family and friends.
“His untimely and unfortunate death serves to highlight the challenges and unexpected circumstances with which police office have to routinely contend. This is yet another underpinning of the dynamic nature of policing and highlights the need for police officers to be constantly provided with critical psychological and emotional support.
“I cannot over-emphasise the fact that these elements are as vital to our success and survival as is public support, a modern legislative framework and a vibrant social network,” he said,
Similarly, Commandant of the Training Centre, Sylvester Louis profusely thanked Downes’ mother, Anastasia MacDowall for attending the ceremony in remembrance of her son and in solidarity with the 52 graduating recruits, stating he was “humbled” by her presence. MacDowall collected the award on behalf of her late son.
“Darwin completed all of his exams, and he performed creditably. He was the winner of the prize for the best in physical training (male) and at the time of his death he was in two finals – Best Drill Competition and Best Kit Competition. Due to respect and unforeseen circumstances, these two competitions were cancelled,” he said, adding that in conversations with Downes, he found him to be “intelligent, helpful and was really looking forward to a career as a police officer”.
Louis stated that investigations into Downes death were continuing and would be “transparent”, further praising recruits and staff at the RPTC for their strength in the face of adversity. (LB)