He switched from being a teen gangster to becoming the owner of a law enforcement company and a rescuer of young people who are prone to becoming involved in gangs.
“Badness is madness and gang is a dead end,” said Fabian McKnight, now singing a totally different tune.
“If you are involved in crime, now is the time to back out,” he added.
McKnight, who was a corporal in the Jamaica Constabulary Force before he migrated to the United States, was born at the then Elderslie Maternity Centre in St. Elizabeth.
He initially lived at Mocho district in St James, and attended Garlands Primary and Junior High School as well as Maldon High.
His hope of sitting Caribbean Examination Council subjects were dashed when his father Delroy died in a motorcycle crash while bringing funds to him to pay for the subjects.
McKnight recalls, among other fond moments, selling plantains and other farm produce with his dad on Fridays and Saturdays in the markets at Montego Bay and Santa Cruz. “I used to plant things too, and used to bring my own stuff to sell,” he said.
He was bitter over his father’s demise.
“I started to launch an attack on the person that [I thought] caused my father’s death,” McKnight said. “The police got involved and I left the community [of Mocho].”
He left Mocho in search of peace, but got a rude awakening in his new residence – Hendon Norwood in Montego Bay, St. James.
“Violence was the order of the day there; it was just a culture,” McKnight told The Beacon. “They even posted in the news media that you had to enter Norwood at your own risk. Because of that, I could not get a job.”
Still trying to stay above the fray, he enrolled at the HEART skills training centre at Seaford Town, Westmoreland. He subsequently pursued port security training with Ports Security Corps.
Peer pressure and unemployment got the better of McKnight while he was still living in the volatile Norwood.
“I turned to crime and violence and started a little gang in the community and I used to run that gang,” he said.
But he could not run from his conscience.
“When you lose a lot of loved-ones and stuff like that, you have to draw into yourself and ask where you are heading, knowing that you were grown up really good,” he said.
As part of the healing process, McKnight left St. James to live with a maternal aunt, Jacinth Adamson, in Spanish Town, St. Catherine.
“My aunt made a difference in my life and created the opportunity for me. She didn’t have to let me under her roof knowing that I used to be a menace to society,” he noted. “Being around my aunt, I had to do something.”
Using the port security training he received back in St. James, McKnight got a job through Ports Security Corps, working at APM terminals and Norman Manley International Airport in Kingston.
After spending a few years in that job, he decided to fulfill his childhood dream of becoming a police officer.
He failed the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) entry test three times before being successful in 2006.
“When I reached the [JCF] training school, I was selected to be the captain for my group of 30 trainees. So, they started to see the leadership qualities in me,” he told The Beacon.
McKnight worked in Kingston as a police officer before being transferred to the Community Safety and Security Branch at the St. Catherine North Division, where Spanish Town Police Station is located.
“Right there, I was put in charge of all police youth clubs,” he said.
That placement did not come as a surprise.
Before he joined the JCF, McKnight actually was a member of a police youth club in Spanish Town, and in St. James prior to his gang involvement.
“When I took over the youth programme [as a police officer in St. Catherine North], we had about 14 active youth programmes. During my time there, I revamped about 40 police youth clubs,” McKnight disclosed.
Realizing that such programmes usually “fail because the police were not presenting opportunities to the young people”, McKnight set out strategically to change things up a bit.
He started a partnership with the State-owned HEART Trust/NTA, he said. “HEART assessed the young people for us and certified them as long as they pass their assessment. Some people ended up using their HEART Trust certification to gain employment even overseas.”
McKnight said his most successful initiative was called the Jamaica Community Cadet Cops and Behavioural Modification Programme, with operated from an office in the train station at Spanish Town bus terminus.
“With that programme, we took almost all those kids in Spanish Town off the street… The ones who could not read or write, we put them in the programme and people came in and volunteered and taught them,” he said, showing newspaper reports on the project.
The programme reached about 1,000 children and ended up being sponsored by members of corporate Jamaica and even the Orlando City Soccer Club in the United States.
“We had kids from all over,” McKnight asserted. “At one point, they had to be sending me all over Jamaica to share best practices with other stations.”
McKnight told The Beacon that he received significant support from various community stakeholders, except his divisional seniors.
“The bigger heads that were supposed to be joining forces with me and helping to save some of the young people’s lives were the ones trying to tear it down,” he lamented.
He claimed that some senior officers went as far as to kick off the doors and searched the office where the programme was being housed. “After they did that, they’re gonna call me and apologize…,” McKnight added.
He eventually left the island for the United States in 2015. “When I came to America and got an opportunity, I wasn’t gonna take it because of the love that I have for the youths and the community and the porogrammes that I had there working,” McKnight said.
He added that the lack of support from his divisional superiors influenced his decision to resign from the JCF after serving through the organization for just over 10 years.
McKnight, still living in the United States, intends to resurrect the programme one day through a charity organization.
“We are going to continue all those programme that we had going in Jamaica because, at the end of the day, I might be living in America, but Jamaica is where my heart is,” he said.
In America, McKnight initially did odd jobs. He worked in a hotel, as driver for a courer service, and at a security company called G4S where he garnered a vast amount of opportunities.
While working for G4S, the Jamaican native, in 2018, started the paperwork to establish his own company – FC Protection and Security Agency. In the following year, he was in receipt of all the necessary documents, he said.
McKnight, who also is a notary public for Florida and a marriage officer, has seven children.
“There is always going to be that voice telling you that you can’t. If you continue to follow that voice, you will not achieve what you set out to achieve. So, keep pushing and don’t give up,” he advised young people.
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