Almost 10 years ago, Jason Rodriques had just left high school and, like many people in their late teens, wasn't sure of his next move.
"At that time my objective was to become an accountant, but I wasn't privileged with the opportunity of just going on to college," he recalled. And then he got some advice. Serving members of the Island Special Constabulary Force (ISCF) suggested to Rodriques that he join the force. After thinking it over, he took the entrance test and was successful. On Wednesday, he was named Special Constable of the Year at the ISCF annual Commandant's Parade at its Harman Barracks base. When the citation was being read, the moment it mentioned the winner was born in Kingston, but went to Munro College, those who know his story started patting him on the back.
"At this moment, it's just an abundance of joy," said the elated Rodriques, whose personal motto is 'Service above self'. He works from the Metro Enforcement section of the ISCF.
"That represents the agro-environmental section of the ISCF. That has Rodriques and his colleagues frequently on patrol, conducting traffic detections and, where necessary, making arrests.
"Being on the road, you know we come across a lot of challenges. It's just a lot of mental things, how to deal with everyday events out there." Earning the highest overall score in the competition, Rodriques' other numbers show exactly why he took the prize. Since January, Rodriques has handed out more than 900 tickets, detected over 1,000 breaches and made 65 arrests.
But Rodriques is exploring his options once again. While carrying out his duties, he is a student at the University College of the Caribbean, doing courses in accounts and finance. But that doesn't necessarily mean you'll see him behind a desk somewhere crunching numbers.
"Currently, I'm enjoying being a part of the ISCF. I would have to think real hard about any other job," the 28-year-old said. The 'blue seam police', as they are known, don't always get the recognition they deserve for supporting the more heralded Jamaica Constabulary Force. But Rodriques believes more people are warming to them.
"The 'blue seam' work has come a far way and persons are recognising all the efforts that we have been putting out over the years," he said. "This force is going in the right direction in terms of professionalism, dedication and hard work. And we will do great in the future."
The Special Constable of the Year award was conceptualised by immediate past ISCF commandant Osmond Bromfield. Commandant James Golding said there are plans to expand the competition and to make the presentation an event of its own.