Ava Lindo has long been a trailblazer
"I'm very passionate about what I do because I'm a child of God, a born-again Christian; committed, dedicated, and whatever I do, God must get the glory. I do not lean upon my own understanding," Detective Sergeant Ava Lindo told The Sunday Gleaner last Thursday.
Lindo was responding to a query about the overriding quality that informs her day-to-day activities as an investigator with the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF).
"I'm a team player (and) everybody's input is important, so I'm not afraid to ask for assistance," she added, before making a surprise admission: "I cried yesterday!"
'Yesterday' was a full 24 hours after Lindo had copped the 2015-2016 LASCO/JCF Police Officer of the Year Award. Away from all the excitement, congratulations and celebration, the full import of that achievement finally caught up with her, triggering a flood of emotions.
The 18-year veteran of the police force was looking at before and after slides for the annual competition sent to her by a friend, Corporal Coghill.
One slides asks, 'Who will be the LASCO Top Cop for 2015?' In the 'after' photo, the question sign is replaced with a picture of the investigator, who is stationed in the Inspectorate of Constabulary Division.
"I was a looking at my picture, in the place where there had been a question sign before, and it really just hit home and the tears started," she disclosed.
Compare that with Lindo's comments in the wake of the high point of the awards luncheon at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel in New Kingston, St Andrew, when it was announced that Sergeant Randy Sweeney of the St Catherine North was first runner-up and Sergeant Christopher Ward of the St Mary Division was second runner-up.
"I am humbled by this experience. We have not only won an award but we have become the very visible face, the very visible image of the Jamaica Constabulary Force, and I am conscious that the lives that we live are always on display. It's an awesome responsibility."
Then there was this admission shortly afterwards by Keretha Walters, who was in attendance: "I am overwhelmed, not because I am her daughter, but she is truly deserving of this award."
One of two women in a field of 11 finalists, Lindo was very confident going into the competition but, by her admission, all the shortlisted policemen and women had impressive rÈsumÈs and track records. And so she dared to hope but did not take for granted the final outcome - that is, until, "They mentioned the longest-serving member and I was like, 'this is me'."
Though she is not aware of just exactly what and how much being the LASCO Ambassador for the next 12 months will require, the detective sergeant is looking forward to the challenge.
"Every experience is different. I am not au fait with what LASCO will ask of me, but I know that the management of the Inspectorate of Constabulary Division will be supportive. I will still have to remain committed to my core functions as a police officer, as an investigator at my branch but I am prepared because it will take a lot of planning and work," she told The Sunday Gleaner.
But for the St Catherine native, whose early schooling was in the adjoining parish of Clarendon, self-motivation and hard work have been pivotal factors in her success to date.
She had been working for two years as a pre-trained teacher at her alma mater when the May Pen High School graduate enrolled at the Jamaica Police Academy, St Catherine (now known as the National Police College) on March 1, 1997.
Lindo first served with the operations team at Mobile Reserve where she was involved in general police duties. A transfer to the Crime Statistics Unit in 2001 saw her employed in the capacity of statistician, before being recruited to participate in a United Nations peacekeeping mission to Monrovia, Liberia, in 2004.
There the Jamaican was exposed to the raw atrocities of war, coming face to face with victims of a long civil war that had decimated the African country. That experience has had a long-lasting impact.
"Liberia on a whole taught me how to love and respect people. So often we have this stereotype about people and where they are from, but I've had to learn that there is humanness in all of us," she shared with The Sunday Gleaner. "They (Liberians) didn't do anything wrong; they had a situation where their country had been through civil war - people were hurt, women were raped, children were raped, there were people whose arms and legs were amputated."
She continued: "I had the opportunity of sitting with the citizens and they would tell me the horror stories of what they had been through. The challenges they were undergoing to once again become members of the society."
Then there was the case of the women who had been gang-raped by 14 men during the war and during the reformation period found 10 of her tormentors in the class of civilians she was teaching.
"She (the rape victim) just had to bury that," Lindo explained, "because you see the need for the country to develop, for the country to reform she had to just be at a place in her heart and her mind that together they are going to work."
That woman's travail is something with which the 2015-2016 LASCO/JCF Top Cop can identify.
Returning to Jamaica in January 2006, by March of 2007 Lindo was off to another international assignment which took her to strife-torn Lebanon, where she served with distinction as a member of the United Nations International Independent Investigation Commission until May 2008.
Back home, Lindo has remained very active in community policing, involved as she is in domestic violence workshops, and with good reason.
"I do what I do because I am passionate about it. I love what I do. I had some unfortunate episodes which robbed me of my teenage years and there is this chord in me that, if I can help children, especially children who are abused, especially sexual abuse... then I must," she said.
A workaholic, Lindo is kept very busy on and off the job and is actively engaged in community activities where she is seen as much more than a police officer - serving as counsellor, mediator and friend, this trailblazer truly epitomises the JCF mandate to serve and protect.