The atmosphere was saturated with glowing tributes on Saturday, July 25, when hundreds of people descended on the sun-drenched town of Linstead in St. Catherine to send off slain police constable Decardo Hylton, 27.
He is among three officers who died after being shot while trying to apprehend criminals at Horizon Park in the Spanish Town area of St. Catherine; the others being Corporal Dane Biggs and Superintendent Leon Clunis.
It is the first time in Jamaica’s modern history that three police officers were murdered while on the same operation, Minister of National Security Dr. Horace Chang said.
“For the first time in our nation’s history, we are mourning the killing of three police officers in the same incident. That is the reality and the sadness we face today as a country. That is the reality that Constable Hylton dedicated his life to changing,” the minister told mourners inside the Bread of Life Ministries church in Linstead.
The shooting transpired on 12 June 2020 – exactly four years after Constable Hylton set foot in the National Police College of Jamaica to commence training.
Reflecting on that life-changing moment, Senior Superintendent of Police Carl Ferguson said: “Clothed in his black pants, white shirt and black tie, he (Constable Hylton) entered the gates of the National Police College of Jamaica on June 12, 2016 as he anticipated training. Six weeks later, he took the Oath Of Office to serve, protect and reassure the people of Jamaica.”
Meanwhile, Churchill Hamilton, step-father of Constable Hylton, revealed that a bullet pierced his step-son’s heart although he was wearing protective gear.
“He was wearing his vest on that mission; how comes the bullet still pierced his heart? Is it that the equipment [worn by] our brave men and women of the police force is – in Jamaican term – a shoddy equipment?” the step-father said, arousing loud applause from the relatively large number of police officers in earshot.
“I say to the powers that be, this [issue regarding equipment for the police] needs to be fixed here and now. If that is not fixed, Decardo will die in vain,” the tearful step-father further said.
He told the gathering that he and Decardo had a potent bond. “Decardo had impeccable manners. Over the past 21 years and more, Decardo has never looked at me and tell me that my eye is red – even when he was a teenager.”
He also emphasized that Decardo did not join the Jamaica Constabulary Force out of need for dollars and cents.
“Decardo did not join the police force out of want – let me make that abundantly clear. Us as parents; we provided for him everything that he needed,” the step-father continued. “But it was his passion to serve; it was his passion to become an officer. Decardo was qualified to pursue any other profession, but he chose to become an officer. He was educated.”
Decardo’s biological father, Gregory Hylton, said he too had a close relationship with his son.
“I remember the day he was born; that was a bright day for me. Losing him today is – I don’t even know how to put it; there is no word to say. I leave for the UK at a young age in his life, but that connection was always there,” he added.
Janet Jones Hamilton, mother of Constable Hylton, told the gathering that she is proud of what her only child had become.
“Having you at 19 and since then you have always been by my side. You said I was too strict, but I am so proud of that. Otherwise, you wouldn’t become the man you became today,” she declared.
Constable Hylton, who lived at Rosemount district in Linstead up to the time of his demise, was born 24 April 1993.
He attended Little People In Training Basic School, followed by Ewarton Primary, Charlemont High, and Dinthill Technical High.
He was so passionate about becoming a cop that he, out of fear that his parents would have objected, applied to the Jamaica Constabulary Force without his parents’ knowledge, said Senior Superintendent Ferguson.
He stated that Constable Hylton, after graduating, was assigned to the Motorised Patrol Division on 8 December 2016. He spent two years there before he was transferred to the then Mobile Reserves.
Constable Hylton later worked at the St. Catherine North Enhanced Security Measures (ESM).
“Because of his tactical prowess and an eye for marksmanship, he was selected for the Special Weapons and Tactical Training Department,” Senior Superintendent Ferguson said in the eulogy.
He stated that, in March 2018, Constable Hylton was assigned to the St. Catherine State of Public Emergency, and was part of the special operations team up to the time he was murdered.
“Constable Hylton, while serving the JCF, gallantly carried out his duties with tremendous enthusiasm and integrity, notwithstanding he was a quiet, humble and a reserved individual,” added Senior Superintendent Ferguson.
Other bigwigs at the funeral included Commissioner of Police Major General Antony Anderson, Chairman of the Jamaica Police Federation Sergeant Patrae Rowe, and Opposition Spokesman on National Security Fitz Jackson.
Constable Hylton was laid to rest inside the tallest grave now at Commodore Cemetery in Linstead shortly after a wreath-laying ceremony and a gun salute.
Members of his family released blue-and-white balloons into the skies before they exited the burial site.
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