Policeman killed in road accident gets military sendoff
Station Sergeant Clifford Sherlock Bridgeman had a passion for the police force, and for the last 27 years he served his country with unrivaled pride, honour and distinction.
Wednesday, scores of mourners, including Governor General Sir Elliott Belgrave, Attorney General Adriel Brathwaite, Minister of Transport and Works Michael Lashley, high-ranking members of the judiciary, and hundreds from the Royal Barbados Police Force (RBPF) turned out to bid him farewell in a touching military service at the Christ Church Parish Church.
Bridgeman, 49, of #4B, Church Village, St Philip, was killed in an accident last month while in the line of duty, when the stationary police vehicle in which he sat as a front seat passenger was struck by a vehicle driven by 23-year-old Tre Murray of Spring Hall, St Lucy who was attempting to overtake a number of automobiles along the road, according to law men.
He was remembered Wednesday by his colleagues as a committed police officer and a kind and gentle individual.
In delivering an appreciation on the behalf of the RPBF, Senior Superintendent John Annel spoke glowingly of Bridgeman.
“From such a tender age, this young man had the intellectual capacity to identify his purpose in life. It was so commonplace for him to show empathy, patience and love for and towards others. Many in the policing and general community still speak of this genuine and pleasant, polite, easy-going and inspiring gentleman. He was really addicted to work,” Annel said.
Annel explained that it was no surprise when Bridgeman was recognized for his years of exemplary work, and was appointed Station Sergeant in January of this year.
“Over time, he displayed himself as a dedicated, committed officer. Many can attest to his devotion to duty, his willingness to go the extra mile, his eagerness to help, his unselfish nature to lend his experience and to provide an attentive ear. In times of stress, he was a rock of removable support. Calm with a reassuring and steady arm. During his tenure he also received several awards for his outstanding work that led to the resolution of several serious matters that included homicides, robberies, kidnapping and sexual assaults,” he added.
Bridgeman was also highly respected as a “decent” person by his colleagues, Annel said.
“He was a decent person. One in whom you could confide in without fear of the breach of that confidence. He was trustworthy, confident without being arrogant, outspoken without being brash, and brave without being reckless. There was something magnetic about Bridgeman’s personality. In him you find a quiet and assured leader. Over the years Bridgeman touched our lives in so many ways. We are all blessed to be touched by his ways, and his presence. Let us forever keep burning the flame of love that he lit in our hearts.”
The dedication that Bridgeman displayed to his profession was matched by his commitment to his family, according to Paul Gittens, a relative of Roslyn Gittens, who was Bridgeman’s partner of 15 years.
In a very moving tribute, Paul Gittens said Bridgeman gelled well with his family from day one, and they considered him a father, brother and friend.
He said Bridgeman would attend every family gathering, with the exception one, which was on the night he died.
“Anyone who knew him, knew he was a soft spoken guy, yet he entered a boisterous Gittens family and surprisingly, he fit in like hand in glove. Ironically, Cliff missed the last family gathering and birthday beach lime on that ill-fated Sunday only because he was involved in a murder investigation,” he said.
Gittens said the police officer’s death had left a dark hole in the lives of the Gittens family.
“We can’t state how much we love Cliff. Whatever families do, we did, and we wouldn’t trade those memories for the world. We thank God for your time here with us, we don’t understand it, but in God we trust. Rest well, my family, until we meet again,” he said through tears.
Bridgeman’s niece Christine Fiedler, who delivered a touching eulogy, said her uncle was loved by all and would be remembered by many. She said her uncle was always there for the family and never hesitated to go beyond the call of duty to assist.
“No time is ever enough. We are grateful for everything you have ever done for us. Your life was one of kindly deeds, a helping hand for others’ deeds, sincere and true in heart and mind, so many memories you left behind,” Fielder said, describing her uncle as an exemplary human being who should be emulated.
“He was a giver and was always helpful. He was strong, disciplined, a no nonsense man and embodied what a good man should be. So much so, the night he died, what we deemed the rough boys from the Pine stated in their words, ‘a good man gone’. That alone spoke to his character and respect he demanded,” she said.
Fielder added that Bridgeman’s eight-year-old son Azanii told her that his father “was very generous and would admit when he was wrong or right”.
She then offered words of comfort to her grieving family, which came from Bridgeman himself just last year, following the passing of his mother, who died a year ago Thursday, and his aunt.
“You will have a feeling you can’t explain, I felt it when Ma died, but you will get stronger.”
Bridgeman was laid to rest in the Christ Church Cemetery.