Former Deputy Commissioner of Police of the Royal Barbados Police Force (RBPF) Keith Whittaker was today remembered as a fearless top cop who made a phenomenal contribution to serving his country.
Today, speaking at an official funeral for Whittaker, held at the St George Parish Church, Assistant Commissioner of Police in charge of Crime, Eucklyn Thompson, said the former senior cop had a stellar career which began on October 6, 1953 and spanned 39 years, ending on July 13 1992 when he officially retired.
“Keith Murrell Whittaker was a disciplinarian and he expected members of the force to conform to the principles and ideals of the organisation in order not to bring it into dispute. He was serious but had a sense of humour; fearless, but humane. Though only five feet, nine inches and small in stature, he had an imposing and commanding presence,” Thompson said.
Whittaker, who was exposed to beat patrol had several other attachments, including being a member of the mounted division and working in the Southern, Bridgetown and Northern divisions.
Having established a reputation based on his astuteness, robust interview skills, techniques and a sharp mind, which enabled him to think quickly on his feet, Whittaker quickly became a household name in Barbados as one of the force’s premier criminal investigators.
He acted as Assistant Superintendent of Police at various times between 1969 to 1976 until he was confirmed in that rank on August 1 that same year and then moved through the ranks until his last promotion to the post of Deputy Commissioner of Police on February 15 1988.
ACP Thompson said Whittaker received multiple awards for his work in tackling some of Barbados’ most dangerous and notorious criminals.
The senior officer said history showed that Whittaker headed the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) at a period of heightened criminal activity in Barbados supported by a core of fine investigators.
“Our distinguished officer endured life-threatening experiences in the course of his duties, at the hand of some of Barbados’ most notorious criminals, including Simeon “Buddy” Brathwaite and Sylberton “Sandflies” Small.
“He and his family suffered the loss of their home at the hands of the latter and the experience was very profound and life changing, especially for him. It clearly put into context, the dangers involved in policing, particularly for those at the forefront of criminal investigations,” Thompson said.
“Despite the setback, Keith Murrell Whittaker, literally got up off the proverbial canvass and he went back to the battlefield to fight for the safety and wellbeing of the members of the Barbadian community.
“His calling and purpose were “a never retreat, never surrender” philosophical approach to police work, and entailed much physical, emotional and mental sacrifice, even beyond the normal hours of duty. Such a sacrifice needs to be publicly acknowledged and kept within the walls of posterity for police officers of this generation, and those yet to come,” Thompson continued.
Delivering the eulogy, one of Whittaker’s nine children, Golda, said as committed as her father was to the force, he was equally committed to family. She said those two passions often created blurred lines, crossing over into each other’s domain.
Golda spoke about her father as an entrepreneur and industrious man who owned pigs and grew produce.
“Our father was also a very emotional man. Boy, was he a crier. This may surprise you, but our father could cry. He sobbed at Carol’s wedding, he burst into tears when we arrived from abroad; he cried when we left, he cried when someone put sugar into the gas tank.
“He cried when Cubana went down on the West Coast. He came home and hugged us all to him, after telling us of pulling a little girl’s torso out of the water. But while in the hospital, he never shed a tear.
“As kids he would come home after a long day at work, and still made time to play with us, putting each of us on his feet, hoisting us into the air one by one, saying cheese on bread, or placing his hand under his armpit and making that farting sound and saying cranker,” Golda recalled.
Officiating Minister Reverend Yolanda Clarke urged those gathered to look to see what they could do to serve their communities as proudly as Whittaker served his country.
Before the start of the service, present and past police officers gathered in the churchyard reminiscing on the long days and nights they spent working with Whittaker.
Grief was planted on the faces of the deceased family members, a few of them even shedding tears as they watched the casket carrying the body of their loved one being lowered into the grave.
The RBPF Band, which added a special touch to the service with a selection of songs, did the same at the gravesite where a detachment of the police officers fired a three-volley salute, as a mark of respect.
The retired officer, who served on the Police Service Commission from 2009 to 2019, would have celebrated his 87th birthday next month.
Whittaker’s wife of 33 years, Grace, received the flag that draped her husband’s casket from Deputy Commissioner of Police Erwin Boyce.
In addition to the RBPF top brass, several public figures attended the service. [email protected]