Jamaica Observer:- AS he lay wounded from the gunman’s bullets early Friday morning, Detective Corporal Dane Biggs managed to call his colleagues, but he couldn’t get the words out.
That is the last memory his team, the intelligence unit for the Jamaica Constabulary Force’s (JCF) Area 5, has of him.
“When the phone was answered the phone was just open and that was it,” head of the team, Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) Orlando Lewis related yesterday.
“The phone was open, which suggested to us that possibly at that time, he may have been hit and was trying to reach out. That was basically it; that was it,” he repeated as his voice cracked.
Biggs, one of two JCF officers murdered during Friday’s police operation in Horizon Park, St Catherine, was under Lewis’s command specialising in intelligence gathering for the force.
Lewis said he had last spoken with Biggs the day before (Thursday) reminding him about outstanding documents to be submitted for a gang investigation and surveillance training course in which he was scheduled to participate.
“He was also earmarked to participate in a course being offered by the US. That was the last conversation I had with him,” Lewis told the Jamaica Observer yesterday.
The unit head said, while he was aware that Biggs was “under pressure” with a heavy workload, he did not use that to make an excuse for the submission delay.
That, he said, was the kind of man the slain cop was.
A sombre Lewis said Biggs, 32, was “impeccable” and was a model for professional conduct, attracting admiration from his superiors and peers alike.
“Even before he was recently promoted as sub-officer, he would have demonstrated the sort of leadership that propelled him to the position. He is somebody I, as a manager, would seek advice from in terms of how to treat issues that may come to my knowledge with regards to intelligence,” Lewis said.
The DSP said Biggs was assigned to the St Catherine North Police Division but covered the entire parish at the time of his death because of the ongoing state of public emergency there.
“If I were to come up all over again within the JCF I would want to replicate his conduct and how he interfaces with people. He takes his job very seriously and also does his job effectively and efficiently. He was certainly someone I recognised as the leader of the team with much promise. He is one I will certainly miss,” Lewis said of Biggs, who had spent 10 years in the force.
Biggs and his colleague, 26-year-old Constable DeCardo Hylton, were shot dead during the pre-dawn operation by at least one gunman, while two of his colleagues, including officer in charge of the operation Superintendent Leon Clunis, were shot and seriously injured.
The alleged gunman was shot and killed during a reported confrontation with the police that same day in Cooreville Gardens, St Andrew.
Hylton, who served four years in the force, also operated from the St Catherine North Police Division.
When the Observer contacted his parents yesterday, the couple wept bitterly on the phone, both unable to say much about their only child.
“We nuh wake up from this yet,” his father repeated.
It was a similar narrative from Biggs’ spouse when contacted on Saturday.
At a press conference from the Office of the Prime Minister on Friday, hours after the lawmen’s demise, Police Commissioner Major General Antony Anderson described the day as a tragedy.
“Both officers gave really good service over the period that they served. And, you know, we have a way in life of eulogising those people who have passed. This is not the case [today]. They were actually really good police officers and we no longer have the benefit of their experience and service. We certainly will do all we can, as a force, to support the families,” Anderson noted.