By Junior O. Simmons
Station Sergeant of Police
“Garon”, “Pasero”, “Turban”, “Bush”, “Mr. President” or “Garvie”. These are just some of the fond nicknames by which recently-retired acting Sergeant of Police, Garvie Ashford Enrite Thomas is known by his former colleagues, friends and family.
Garvie comes from very humble beginnings. He was born in the village of Chauncey to Francillia “Gyal” Thomas and Herbie “Skin and Bone” Small. He grew up with his siblings Yolande, Johnnie, Kenta, Colin, Terry-Ann and Dwayne. He was educated at the Questelles Government, the Emmanuel High and later at the University of the West Indies, Mona Campus, Jamaica.
While growing up, Garvie’s stepfather, “Pasero”, from whom he acquired the sobriquet, was a police officer. This, no doubt, had an influence on his young mind and eventually led him to enlist in the RSVG Police Force on September 1, 1995. To my mind, Garvie was an extraordinary, effective and dedicated police officer par excellence. During his career, which spanned just over 20 years and six months, he always performed above and beyond the call of duty. He was a “live wire” whereever he was stationed.
During his career, he worked on Beat and Patrol, Telecommunications, Public Relations and Complaints, Special Branch, Process Office, The Family Court, DARE Programme, as a lecturer and instructor at the Police Training School and at the Questelles, Vermont, Layou and Barrouallie Police Stations. He was also the District Co-ordinator of the Barrouallie Police Youth Club, where he did extensive voluntary and community work with the youths of that and other communities.
Garvie also made a sterling contribution to the Credit Union Movement in St. Vincent and the Grenadines and the region. He served on the Board of Directors of the Police Co-operative Credit Union for many years in various capacities including secretary, PRO and as vice president (he recently resigned that position).
Because of his passion for working with the youth, the vulnerable and helping people generally, Garvie enrolled at the University of the West Indies, Mona Campus, Jamaica in 2007 to pursue studies in social work, which he successfully completed in 2008. Since then, he has written and researched extensively on social problems affecting the Caribbean such as domestic violence, drug abuse, teenage pregnancy, under age drinking and the skin bleaching phenomenon.
Garvie’s expertise and knowledge in social work afforded him the enviable opportunity to be an advisor to the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court, where he was responsible for preparing and presenting social inquiry reports to the Court on young offenders who were applying for bail. He performed this role for one year (2015-2016) and his work was very much appreciated by the officers of the Court including the judges, lawyers and others.
As a middle manager in the Police Force, Garvie was very proactive, and, through his leadership qualities, was able to motivate his subordinates and peers alike toward greater efficiency, professionalism and excellent interpersonal skills when executing their duties to the public.
I knew Garvie “from a distance” prior to his entry into the Police Force, but I got to know him more on a personal level when I became his immediate supervisor at Special Branch. He was a well-rounded and versatile officer with a vast knowledge of local, regional and international affairs/relations. Once there is a current issue, be it national or global, geo-political, socio-economic, family, authors or security, Garvie and I felt mutually comfortable discussing them. We discussed and still discuss varying issues especially “American politics”. Garvie loves American politics. He is a Republican and I am a Democrat — but we get along very well.
Recently, when former President George W. Bush was campaigning for his brother Jeb in South Carolina, I was watching the speech on television and the first person who came to my mind was Garvie because I suspected that he was also watching. So I “Watsapped” him and he confirmed that he was in fact watching the event. That is how like-minded we are.
As stated earlier, Garvie was a “live wire” in the Police Force. Not only could you have depended on him to get the job done but he is also a jovial person and one who ensured that good camaraderie existed among his colleagues. He is also an excellent orator and impersonator. His oratorical skills remain unmatched in the constabulary. Whether he was chairing a function or hosting the “Police on the Beat Programme” on Radio 705, he brought a flavour to it that was only unique to him.
Garvie was in the habit of impersonating former Commissioners of Police, especially Osbourne Quow. Here is Garvie narrating one of his stories about the former Commissioner:
Mr. Quow: Thomas, I am going to Russell’s Cinema to watch a “Kick Up”
Garvie: Yes, sir.
Mr. Quow: Name me one famous Chinese movie star beside Bruce Lee, Thomas.
Garvie: Chin Sin, sir
Mr. Quow: (with a loud laugh that was infectious) Good Thomas, you know them all.
Garvie is a voracious reader, he reads up to four novels at the same time; his favourite author is Vince Flynn. Some of his favourite quotes are: “All that I am, I owe it to my dear mother”. “Revenge is a meal best served when cold” —Denzil Washington. “Why when everyone feasts off the pleasures of life, I get the indigestion?” — Walter Mathau
This officer will be sorely missed by his colleagues in the Force and by members of the communities in which he served. It is my strong belief that one of the highest achievements in life is service to one’s country. Garvie has served with distinction, honour and poise. His contribution to nation building and to the national security architecture in St. Vincent and the Grenadines is unyielding.
His retirement from the Police Force took effect on Monday March 7, 2016. And now, my brother, as you depart this noble organisation and embark on a new journey, “may the Lord bless you and keep you, may the Lord cause his face to shine upon you and be gracious unto you; the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace” (Deut 6:24-26).