Governor-General Kenneth Hall confers the Order of Distinction (Commander Class) on Police Commissioner Lucius Thomas during the National Honours Awards held at King's House last year on National Heroes' Day. At this year's ceremony, Woman Constable Tamara Dias will receive a badge of gallantry. - File
Glenroy Sinclair, Assignment Coordinator
She is sitting with other women in a beauty salon, waiting her turn, when suddenly, a man enters the gateway, brandishing an Intratec Nine sub-machine gun at the group. His body language says they are going to be robbed.
She sees the masked gunman before he steps inside the salon. The other women begin to run for cover. Woman Constable Tamara Dias quickly removes her 9-mm pistol from her waist.
Her life flashes before her eyes as she stares down the barrel of the gunman's weapon. "He saw the gun in my hand and stepped towards me. I stepped towards him too," Dias recounts.
In a split second, there is an exchange of gunfire, and the masked gunman is lying face down, atop his weapon. Two of his colleagues, with gun in hand, come rushing in to investigate what is happening.
Dias takes them on and another is hit. The injured gunman is helped by his cronies who take him to hospital. She uses her cellular phone to call 119, police control.
Medal of gallantry
The chance she took not to save her own life, but that of others, will not go unrecognised. On Heroes' Day, October 17, Woman Constable Tamara Dias will be the only member of the Jamaica Constabulary Force who will be collecting a medal of gallantry, in recognition of a job well done.
While the memories will never go away, Constable Dias, who attends church regularly, says the incident affected her briefly"In the end, it was a life that was lost and I felt bad and even worse when I later found that the deceased was related to one of my mother's church sisters. But it could have been me," said the 24-year-old law enforcement officer, who spent her childhood years in Allman Town, and later in Gregory Park, St. Catherine.
She was educated at Josť Mart High School in St. Catherine, and later at Boys' Town Vocational Centre. After graduation, she worked as a secretary before teaching at McCauley Primary School. She then went on to the Police Academy.
"This was my dream; I had always wanted to become a police," says Dias, who had tried for the Jamaica Defence Force, but was unsuccessful. She is the only female member of the Special Anti-Crime Task Force swat team.