Sat | Sep 19, 2020

Clunis hailed as a ‘true Jamaican hero’

Published:Sunday | August 9, 2020 | 12:00 AMPaul Clarke - Sunday Gleaner Writer
Pall-bearers take the body of the late Superintendent of Police Leon Clunis inside the Church of the Open Bible on Washington Boulevard yesterday for the funeral.
Police Commissioner Major General Antony Anderson offering words of comfort to Superintendent Leon Clunis’ widow, Tricia, during yesterday’s thanksgiving service at the Church of the Open Bible on Washington Boulevard in St Andrew.
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Superintendent Leon Ernest Clunis was “destined for greatness” was the constant refrain as relatives, friends and colleagues yesterday paid their final respects to the man who served for 29 years in the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF).

The decorated cop was yesterday sent off in style and class in a moving thanksgiving service at the Church of the Open Bible on Washington Boulevard in St Andrew, where he was eulogised by Deputy Commissioner Clifford Blake as a man of great passion.

The superintendent was one of four policemen shot in the deadly Horizon Park, Spanish Town, St Catherine, operation on June 12. Corporal Dane Biggs and Constable Decardo Hylton died on that ill-fated day, while Clunis passed away at age 52 on June 30 in hospital, weeks after the shooting.

The other officer, District Constable Lothan Richards, was treated at hospital and later released.

Clunis entered the Jamaica Police Academy at Twickenham Park at age 21 and graduated on September 27, 1991. After a few years climbing the ranks, he was transferred from the Personnel Division of the JCF to the Bureau of Special Investigations (BSI), and it was there that he truly started displaying his propensity for detailed work and leadership.

“The experience garnered at BSI prepared him for his next transfer in December 2007 to the Professional Standards Branch, which was subsequently subsumed into the Anti-Corruption Branch,” Blake recounted.

“It was at the Anti-Corruption Branch that his reputation as a czar in the fight against corruption was established.”

Clunis’ widow, Tricia, along with their three children and several siblings and other relatives, sat quietly as Blake spoke glowingly of the man they and many others affectionately called ‘Ernie’.

One moving moment during the service was when members of the intelligence unit Clunis had led were asked to join the JCF Choir on stage.

CARRY ON THE FIGHT

In his tribute, Police Commissioner Major General Antony Anderson said, “The passing of this law enforcement practitioner has cut short his contribution to our collective effort in the fight against crime. As we mourn his passing, let us carry on the fight of reducing crime in Jamaica, thereby making our communities safer.”

The commissioner described Clunis as a brave soul, ever looking out for the well-being of the men and women he served with.

“Superintendent Leon Clunis was a true Jamaican hero. He was a fierce and focused officer of the law, who earned the respect of colleagues and had become a source of trepidation for criminals all across the island,”remarked Senator Matthew Samuda, minister without portfolio in the Ministry of National Security.

Clunis, Biggs and Hylton will be conferred posthumously with the Medal of Honour for Gallantry on National Heroes Day, while Richards is expected to mount the prestigious King’s House platform to accept the national honour.

paul.clarke@gleanerjm.com