“Daddy, you ever shoot anybody?” Franz Hewitt recalled asking his father when he was younger.
The shared memory was a tickle for all who were present at a packed Boulevard Baptist Church on Saturday to celebrate the life of retired Senior Superintendent of Police Delroy Milverton Hewitt.
“He would say, ‘Franz, you can’t ask me that,’ in such a stern way, and we never spoke about it again. So to hear afterwards so many of his colleagues talking about his courage, his unwavering bravery in the line of duty, the reverence of which he is spoken of, it is something to behold. It makes us proud when we hear about his fearlessness, his intelligence, his tactical ability, and the many lives that he saved,” Franz said during a tribute.
Franz said his father gave a lot to protect Jamaica and defend many who could not defend themselves. And yet, growing up, he didn’t really see that side of him.
“I didn’t really see the tough cop side. We, his children, we didn’t see the commanding police officer side of him. To us, he was just daddy. He always kept the career, crime-fighter side separate from us. And that was perhaps his way of protecting us away from the ugliness and reality of life,” he said.
Delroy Hewitt, 69, was a well-known crime fighter and a father of five who fathered many. He died of cancer on Sunday, May 7, 2023. After complaining about a stomach pain, it was discovered that he had a mass on his pancreas.
“Even though I was afraid, I tried to stay positive and hope for the best every step of the way for some miracle. I didn’t know yet that it was the C word, so I tried to hope that it wasn’t, that is was benign, and that the weight loss was just a coincidence,” Franz continued.
“I told him, ‘Dad, you can’t die because I still have to give you grandchildren, and we still have so much work to do, and you have to fight it.”
Hewitt was born and raised in the rural town of Baulk in Westmoreland and was the first child and only son for his mother, and fifth child for his father. Overall, he had 10 sisters and three brothers.
As a youngster, eager to be outdoors and taking on adventures, he lived with his mother and sisters. Later on, he lived with his father, stepmother, and other siblings. From a very early age, his family recalled, he professed that he would become a policeman.
Hewitt attended Mount Grace Primary and Junior High School in Westmoreland, and passed seven subjects in the Jamaica School Certificate (JSC) examination, as related through the eulogy delivered by his niece Rochelle Robinson.
In 1970, he moved from Westmoreland to Kingston to start his journey to a long and rewarding career as a police officer. As a young recruit, he was enthused by the job training and told his family members tales of experiences, including field visits to police stations and courthouses.
He enlisted in the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) on March 16, 1972 and retired on December 1, 2013. He served for 41 years of service and received 23 commendations.
The revered policeman had eight dogs, enjoyed the countryside, hunted birds and wild hogs in St Thomas, and had a feast annually in December.
A tribute by Major General Antony Anderson, commissioner of police, which was imprinted on Hewitt’s funeral programme, noted that he served at the Mobile Reserve, Special Anti-Crime Task Force, Kingston West, St Thomas, Area 4, and St Andrew South divisions.
“To Delroy’s wife, Joan; his children, Franz, Kodan, Marlon, Sophia, and Kozeth; his siblings; and other bereaved family members, please accept our deepest sorrow for the loss you have endured. We pray that God will comfort you as you journey through this time of grief. As we mourn his passing, let us pledge to carry on the fight of reducing crime in Jamaica, thereby making our communities safer. You will always remain in our hearts, Mr Delroy Milverton Hewitt, retired senior superintendent of police. May his soul rest in peace!” the tribute read.
There were also tributes from Leon Rose, retired assistant commissioner of police; Senior Superintendent of Police Wayne Cameron, chairman of the Police Officers’ Association; and Corporal Rohan James, chairman of the Police Federation.
Yanique Dawkins, who was listed by Hewitt’s family as “honorary daughter”, gave a tearful and heartfelt recollection of her time with him.
“Thank you for taking me as your daughter when I was only three months old,” she said, as her voice cracked.
“You always say, ‘Hey, meet my daughter over there… her name is Yanique.’ No matter what, you’ve always been there for me from I was three months old to an adult. You never say no. If I called, you’re right there. Thank you for being there for my daughter when I migrated and she was still in Jamaica. We love and we miss you,” she Dawkins continued.
Hewitt’s sister, Angela Perrin, said, growing up, he was “relatively quiet” at home and loved bird shooting and playing football. When his friends and cousins came over, she added, he would readily run off with them.
“Delroy and I grew up together, very closely. Delroy was tasked with the responsibility of taking me to school. He would walk with his friends and I would be behind… sometimes I would try to catch up with him. I love the boys’ company. I love my brother dearly. We shared good times,” Perrin recalled.
“Today, he is lying here and I’m not going to be sad because I have hope. Brother, sleep on. I will see you in the morning and we, again, will be reunited.”
Robinson remembered her uncle as the “fun uncle” who treated her and his other nieces and nephews to countless excursions to the beach. She said beyond the rigours of his strenuous work life, he believed in balance.
“He was supportive of his family members and would always make the time for birthdays, graduations, games, and importantly, milestones. Delroy Hewitt enjoyed the simplicity of life… vacationing with family, nature, travelling, and hunting. He also loved animals, specially his dogs,” she said.
Hewitt was buried at the Golden Grove Cemetery in St Thomas.