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by Bertie Hinds
I can speak authoritatively and perhaps convincingly, about several important aspects of the life and times of my personal friend, family friend and co-worker, Lewis as I always called him. But I do so, still in shock and disbelief at his tragic death on Saturday 22nd May 2021 in the late evening hours.
This, for sure, will be permanently etched in my mind, until I too, depart this increasingly hostile and anti-Christ world. So profound has been the effect on me, that I often find myself in deep thought about the tragic occurrence. Admittedly, I usually emerge from such mental state with a stupse “why Lewis?”
But I find solace in the fact that seconds before his death, he was in his group chat, preparing his bible lessons for the next day’s spiritual intercourse with his, and our Maker and Redeemer.
I first knew Lewis (as I affectionately called him), when he was a student at the Selah Primary school (my alma-mater). There, he was schooling with my two elder children Kerry and Kevin. I would often see this little fellow as I dropped
off and sometimes picked up my two offsprings.
I also knew his mother Lyncia who is affectionately known to me. For she worked at her brother’s retail business at Content St. Lucy and a stone’s throw away from Selah. That’s why Lewis was schooled there instead of All Saints Boys or otherwise.
Little did I know that I would meet Lewis in the Constabulary in later years. I had lost sight of him as he pursued his secondary education at the now Frederick Smith Secondary School at Trents, St. James.
Still slim and trim, he applied to the Police for the post of Special Constable. In this rank he performed exceedingly well, and this propelled him into the rank of a regular constable.
It is when, I, as Deputy Commissioner chose him to be my driver/protection officer, he showed his true colours and a strong and lasting bond developed between us. It was typical and a long lasting tradition for one in such a job description, to take his boss to work and wait until he was finished and ferry him back home.
Lewis did not follow this tradition. To and from work, he would be citing traffic cases and of course he had my blessing to “pull over” anyone so cited. In short order, Highway 1, was a disciplined highway as it related to Public Service Vehicles, between 8 a.m. and 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. on our outward journey from the office.
But that was not all. After arriving at my office, Lewis routinely said, “Skipper well you know I am going into the city and help the fellows or, I am going to District A or Belleplaine, Holetown or District E courts for cases I have there. He had the leverage and I would make alternative arrangements if anything cropped up that would cause me to leave office.
Our journey to and from the office was for the most, punctuated by brainstorming when he was confronted with any seemingly technical policing issue.
Well, he was usually reassured after he gave me his version of the challenge. Lewis had the appetite to be schooled in police work and I created the classroom atmosphere for his learning.
The years of such activity bore fruit for him and great satisfaction for me. Qualifying examinations for promotion came along and Lewis breezed through the papers with a first. “The others also ran”. From the large number of constables up for promotion interviews, he cantered home again “with a best of them all”.
He literally blew away the interview board; members were transfixed. The Chairman of the Board at the end of the questioning, asked Lewis “where did you get all this knowledge from?” With that infectious smile, he pointed in my direction and said, “from him”. No wonder he had to be promoted to the rank of Sergeant in short order.
After I demitted office in 2013, Lewis took up what we refer to as out-station duties. Crab Hill Station was an assignment. Our interaction continued with visits to my home, sometimes for a bit of leisure and of course to pick my brain when he was confronted with any seemingly technical policing issue.
As acting Station Sergeant he told me that he was eyeing managing a District Station, once he had completed his driver/protection officer duty with the Commissioner.
Of course he said to me “well Skipper, you know I coming to you about Station management. My retort with an obvious smile, was “I will pull you through the paces, not a problem at all”. Sadly, he did not live to realise that dream which he was so enthusiastic about.
What I have said so far is encapsulated in the following: a tower of strength, commitment, dedication, honesty, integrity, good humour, eagle-eyed, productive duty-wise, modest, family oriented, faithful, goal oriented, guided by the Christian faith; in other words, virtuous.
I am told by his household and several in the Constabulary that he called me his second father and they too opined the same. No wonder, then, that condolences poured in to me even to today, from serving and retired police officers, local civilians, from persons in the USA, Canada and the UK and of course the Caribbean region.
Members of the military too, sent me condolences. In essence, my friends and associates became his friends and associates. Such was demonstrative of the bond between us and the respect accorded Lewis.
Lewis completed 46 years of yeoman service. The Master has aptly rewarded him. Rest in peace my beloved friend. Always etched in my heart, mind and soul.
You did it your way and God’s way. I can see you leading the team of esteemed cricketers on those heavenly cricket grounds.
And now to his beloved wife Kathy and their offspring, his mother Lyncia and his father affectionately known to me as Plym, his brothers and sister, his extended family, friends, comrades and well-wishers; my sincerest condolences.
Bertie Hinds is a retired Deputy Commissioner of Police, close friend and mentor of the late Newton Lewis.