Michael Nattoo – Staff Reporter
When Jamaica became one of the bloodiest nations on earth last year, recording more than 1,600 murders, with St. James alone tallying 335, many concerned Jamaicans reasoned that their best chances of survival were to be found anywhere but the once peaceful island in the sun. Among those who sought refuge away from the rampant criminality were some of the brave men and women of the Jamaica Constabulary Force, but there was one that never seemed to yield to that pressure: Constable Hilette Virgo.
If her name sounds familiar, it may be because just last year, 2017, Virgo finished first runner-up in the LASCO/Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) Police Officer of the Year competition (Area One) and was an effective presence in the St. James Community Safety and Security Branch of the Force. So impressive was she that during that time, she was sent to the Montego Hills Police Station as the Community Safety and Security Liaison, with the JCF expressing full confidence that one way or another, she would have been able to significantly contribute to the galvanization of that community.
But when the promising young constable decided to leave the JCF, it sent shockwaves throughout the Force.
“As a young person filled with exuberance, I desired a change that was befitting of the era in which I lived as a millennial,” said the Flamstead Garden resident. “I understood that there were certain limitations I had to contend with, and when I considered that with the fact that I knew just how much more we could have been doing as police officers, it became a bit frustrating,” Virgo admitted.
So, despite her overwhelming love for service and the promise she showed in the JCF, the 31-year-old decided it was time to spread her wings elsewhere, and with the state of chaos that prevailed in her home parish, St. James, at the time of her exit, none would blame her if she decided not to look back.
Virgo arrived in the United States of America (USA) shortly after and had every intention to embrace the passions her years of service in the JCF never allowed her to directly pursue. That desire led her to pursue a course as a Transformational Life Coach, a skill that prior to being certified in, she had always used in the communities in which she worked as a police officer. The certification, in the end, only proved to be a formality. Many who knew the inspirational Virgo knew her to be someone who always sought to inspire. Life seemed to be going well for Virgo in her new endeavors, but there was something that kept tugging at her, which she, at first, tried to ignore.
“I went on to write a book, and I even made some connections with various associations in the diaspora,” Virgo told the Western Mirror. She remembers a particular encounter with the Georgia Jamaica Association, which reminded her just how much she had been missing life back in Jamaica, and more specifically, life in the police force. “They told me that I needed to be back in the Force, and that the passion for service I had, that I tried to ignore, would not go away,” Virgo revealed. It did not help her new direction that even while she was away, persons and institutions with whom she forged relationships with kept reaching out to her, seeking advice, as well as to have issues resolved.
“So even though I had that longing to travel and explore the world, to write books, to venture into public speaking, as well as to practice my Life Coaching skills, I couldn’t ignore the urge to come back home and finish the work I started. When I learnt of the impact I had on some persons, I wasn’t sure how long I could stay away. I had to go back home,” Virgo explained. She yielded to the calls and not long after, Virgo was back in Jamaica as a member of the Jamaica Crime Prevention and Intervention Task Force, and, finally again, a member of the JCF.
BACK WHERE IT ALL BEGAN
Back where she had left her heart – the Jamaica Constabulary Force, Virgo is excited to take what she had learnt on her time away from it to benefit her service. “I am now more aware of some of the ills affecting us since I got a chance to be on the outside so now, I have a greater appreciation for what needs to be done,” she explained. “I appreciate the role now more than ever, and how valuable this office is in the fight against crime.”
Virgo revealed to the Western Mirror that no money, success or conquest, compared to the joy she felt serving her follow men, and now being back in the Jamaica Constabulary Force, her heart is at peace. “It is easier to build strong children than to fix broken men,” Virgo said, borrowing a quote from Fredrick Douglas, “so in order not to repeat history, we need to lay a proper foundation so that the current issues we face do not transcend this generation,” she closed.