Families reeling with pain as JCF mourns 43 ‘fallen’ cops in a year
Eight-year-old Laviana Thomas did not give the slightest smile as she attended a special luncheon yesterday. Nor did her mother, Jodi-Ann Miller, who accompanied her.
The two were among families gathered for the Jamaica Constabulary Force’s (JCF) Luncheon for Children of Fallen Officers at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel, as the commissioner and colleagues paid tribute to the families of 43 members of the police force who have died since November 2018. Forty-two had died of natural causes and one in the line of duty.
Laviana’s father, Constable Dean Thomas, was fatally shot in the St Andrew South Division while in pursuit of gunmen at the intersection of Molynes Road and Washington Boulevard in March 2019.
Pointing out that his smile is what she misses most, Miller said the incident is fresh in her mind.
She recounts that Thomas did not succumb to his injuries immediately, but was hospitalised at the Kingston Public Hospital until he was transferred to a hospital in Miami, Florida, for further treatment.
“The gunshot affected his spine. He was there; he wasn’t dead, so we were still expecting that things would get better but, unfortunately, ... ,” the 30-year-old said as she broke down in tears.
“It has not been easy. I am holding on for the sake of my child. I still have incidents where she would just start crying. Even last week, she just got sad and I kept asking what’s wrong, but she wouldn’t answer,” Miller said.
After a while, Laviana finally responded, “I want Daddy,” just as her motherly instincts had told her.
STRONG SUPPORT SYSTEM
Miller said she was in shock when she learnt of Thomas’ death on July 25, and relatives and friends have provided shoulders to cry on and willing ears to listen.
“I have a strong support system – family and friends. The JCF has been there; they keep in contact with me, even up to last night,” she said.
Miller hopes that with time, the pain will subside, but she worries for her daughter.
“As she gets older, there are gonna be more questions. She’s gonna want to know what exactly happened to her daddy and I will have to explain word for word,” she said.
For 34-year-old Tameka Williams, her family lost its main breadwinner when her spouse, Corporal Michael Pinnock, died this year.
Pinnock had served in the St Thomas Police Division for more than a quarter of a century, and Williams said he was a dedicated member of the force.
“It was always about work, but when it was family time, it was family time,” she said.
The corporal’s battle with lung cancer was short, as he died less than two months after his diagnosis.
“It hit us hard because we weren’t expecting that, but through counselling, we are getting there. He was there for everybody, someone you could count on, and he was always on time,” Williams reflected.
Life, since Pinnock’s death, has not been the same.
“I would cook and he would come home and we have dinner, eat, laugh, chat, and then he went back to work. When him reach, he would call and say, ‘The food was nice today.’ This Christmas, it will not be the same, trust me, ‘cause we are used to him being around,” she said.
With two children, ages two and nine, to care for, Williams has taken on small-scale chicken farming to help fill the financial gap left by Pinnock’s passing.