Glenroy Sinclair, Assignment Coordinator
First there was disbelief, then the tears threatened to flow as a stunned Derrick 'Cowboy' Knight received news that he had been promoted to the rank of assistant commissioner of police (ACP).
The tough-talking and outspoken crime fighter was left speechless at what he described as the happiest moment of his life last Tuesday when Police Commissioner Owen Ellington confirmed the promotion."Tears came to my eyes, I was stuck in the chair for a while and couldn't move. I had to read the letter about four times, I couldn't believe it was for real.
"It was not that I was not looking forward to it, but I was so overwhelmed," the 35-year veteran of the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) told The Sunday Gleaner.
Rated among the top crime fighters in the JCF's recent history, Knight has spent 27 years policing some of the most volatile communities in the Corporate Area.
Now his immediate goal is to reduce the level of crime in the police Area 3 which he leads.
This covers the parishes of Manchester, Clarendon and St Elizabeth.
"I will be leading by example and my focus will be on leadership, partnership, communication, our relationship with the people we serve, mentoring and strategic policing," said Knight, who has repeatedly voiced his determination to eradicate corruption from the Force.
The towering cop told The Sunday Gleaner that while his work across Area 3 will be intelligence driven, he will be in the lane and streets, speaking with the people.
"It will be a partnership between the police and the people. I will be at their service and they can call me at 322-4721 or 968-1081 and talk to me," said Knight.
Known for his commanding voice which at times intimidates the perpetrators of crime, Knight wants the best for the people he serves, and most of all intends to join in the mission for God.
"I came from a strict Christian home. I joined the JCF as a Christian and right now I am thinking of going back to God."
Growing up in the community of Harmony Hall, St Mary, life was a real challenge for Knight and his family.
His mother, who was a dressmaker, was the sole breadwinner.
"Back then cornmeal, was our main staple, sometimes in the mornings we had black cornmeal porridge (sweetened with sugar only) and for dinner my mother would gave us turn cornmeal. Some Sundays, we had to eat rice and butter, not even a tin of mackerel my mother could afford."
At times, while his peers were out having fun, Knight had to stay by his mother's side, helping to hem the many skirts and dresses.
"It has been 20 years now since my mother died; sometimes on Mother's Day I just cry. Because I would have love her to be around to see my achievements," said Knight.
Having achieved a boyhood dream of joining the police force, Knight has been shot by criminals three times.
But those incidents only helped to strengthen his determination to "serve and protect".
He believes that had it not been for the support of senior crime fighters including the late Tony Hewitt, Kelso Small, Newton Amos, Leon Rose, Jervis Taylor and others, he would not have reached where he is today.
"My worst day in the JCF was when my mentor, consultant, adviser and friend, Tony Hewitt, was murdered. While my happiest day is last Tuesday when I was promoted to the rank of ACP," said Knight, who has five years of service remaining in the JCF.