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A lifetime of service

Published:Friday | March 19, 2010 | 12:00 AM
Robblin Wedderburn, one of the first police officers to be trained at the Jamaica Police Academy in Twickenham Park, St Catherine, 33 years ago. - Norman Grindley/Chief Photographer

Thirty-three years ago, a group of 124 men and women from across Jamaica had a chance meeting at the Jamaica Police Academy in Twickenham Park, St Catherine, after they enlisted in the Jamaica Constabulary Force.

After several weeks of rigorous and intense training, the 74 men and 50 women left the academy as a family, a bond they still share to this day.

In fact, leader of the group, Inspector Robblin Wedderburn, gave a full account for all 124 officers when The Gleaner contacted him.

He said 18 were still serving the force from the rank of sergeant to superintendent, another 18 were on pre-retirement leave, 14 had died, 10 in the line of duty, and 74 had retired earlier.

"We were the first set of police officers to train at Twickenham Park ... this was also the first time women in the force were being exposed to semi-military training and high-powered weapons ... and ever since that day we've had a bond with each other," Wedderburn explained.

"The main reason why we are still together is because of the love, respect, understanding and appreciation we have for each other.

"We take vacations together, we celebrate each other's birthdays, our successes and we mourn each other's grief," he offered.

The last member of the group killed was Corporal Derval Thompson from the May Pen Traffic Department, who was shot while writing a traffic ticket in January 2004.

In support of commissioner

When The Gleaner contacted Inspector Wedderburn on Tuesday, he and other members of the group were paying a courtesy call onacting Police Commissioner Owen Ellington.

He said the group fully supported Ellington and would do "everything possible" to help rid the force of corruption.

Wedderburn also bemoaned the level of crime that now existed, saying legislators had not done enough to equip the force.

He also pointed to a breakdown in discipline within the society, especially children.

"There was a time when any parent could talk to any child ... those were the days," said an exasperated-sounding Wedderburn.

The group has planned a series of activities to mark their 33rd anniversary, commencing with a church service in Trelawny this Sunday.

With help from Mac D's Auto Supplies and Breezes hotel, members of the group, including some who have retired to the United States, will be fêted in Trelawny this weekend.