Sunday Brew — January 24, 2021

Sunday Brew — January 24, 2021

with HG HELPS
Editor-at-Large
helpsh@jamaicaobserver.com

Sunday, January 24, 2021

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Commish Anderson, it's crime, not headlines why we suffer so

It appears that Police Commissioner Major General Antony Anderson now seems to think that the media are responsible in some way for creating some of the crimes being committed in Jamaica, which he has no answer to.

For how else could one view his foolish comments last week that headlines (supposedly by newspapers) were part of the crime problem, saying, if all information came from headlines, you would be afraid. He also said that sensational headlines don't fully explain or put things into context, and without context, he continued, it creates a lot of fear.

Telling members of the diaspora, of all people, about Jamaica having sensational headlines that do not put into context what is happening as far as crime goes is merely telling us all that the commissioner, the man in charge of operations as far as out security goes, is out of his league.

You see, the police commissioner, who has the distinction of serving the Jamaica Defence Force as its chief officer, and was later appointed national security advisor (whatever that meant) by Prime Minister Andrew Holness, is totally lost as far as solving Jamaica's crime problem is concerned.

It is he, among others, who solemnly believe that crime will be crushed by instituting states of emergency as the be-all and end-all, when these measures have achieved absolutely nothing.

As the Gleaner editorial of January 18 put it, muted headlines is certainly not the answer to solving crime.

Jamaicans kill over 1,300 of their brothers and sisters on average each year, which is far higher, per capita, than most countries of the world, including the big ones like the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, China, and Australia.

We run off our mouths whenever double and triple murders are committed, saying things like the police know who the perpetrators are, and will soon make an arrest, but is that enough?

This country will never totally rid itself of crime, but it can reduce it in a significant way, and allow for its citizens to live in an environment of freedom from fear. But based upon what has been happening, the wait will be longer than the Great Wall of China, as there is nothing in sight that indicates that the people of this country will be spared the wrath of criminals anytime soon.

The experiment by Prime Minister Holness to use General Anderson as commissioner has not worked at all. Those who believe that a man who heads a nation's army is well qualified to run a police force are misguided. Murders are still high, and while there may be decreases, based on police statistics, in other crimes, it is still unacceptable.

And what about the police force as a whole? How many bright and decent officers who aspire to become commissioner will want to stick around knowing that you can't go further than the rank of deputy commissioner or assistant commissioner, or even superintendent because the job of commissioner is reserved for a senior army man?

General Anderson is a nice man. Decent too. But we need more than that in our search to reduce the high crime rate that has choked Jamaica's growth for decades.

His contract, as far as some of us are aware, ends sometime in March. Let us see if the army's control of the police force will continue under an Administration that is lacking in ideas of how crime ought to be controlled.

The JDF – that place of mysteries

What in blazes is happening at the Jamaica Defence Force?

Last week the Sunday Observer turned its attention to occurrences at army headquarters in St Andrew, highlighting a situation with a woman soldier who apparently was mistreated by an officer, with whom she was involved in a sexual relationship that turned sour.

But the army, as evasive as ever, insulted the people of this country by initially refusing to comment on allegations of irregular conduct by the officer, and even when a statement was issued, it was so wishy-washy that it would have been better not issued.

The JDF, too, recently appointed a media liaison officer, a second lieutenant I understand, who has less than a year's service in the army, and who has no media contact or experience whatsoever. It's like the young man, Lt Nathan Curtis, was thrown in at the deep end of a shark infested body of water and left to survive on his own.

How could the army have had Basil Jarrett, a major who has had experience in media as its liaison, and then replace him with a lieutenant?

What is really happening? Suddenly, we have been seeing so many good senior officers leaving the army, which leaves us to wonder if they were frustrated into quitting, or were forced out.

Senior soldiers like Brigadier David Cummings, Colonel Jamie O'Gilvie, Colonel Daniel Pryce and a few others are no longer around, some because they are not happy with the direction in which the army is going. I'm not even sure that Major Jarrett is still a part of the JDF.

There is also talk of political interference in army operations, which, if true, cannot be good for the country.

Lt General Rocky Meade has some more work to do. He could start by correcting the bad that has been done to its public relations programme by appointing a more senior officer who has a better understanding of the army, and who can speak with unquestioned authority on matters that the public have a right to know.

The continued practice of the JDF behaving as if it is a country by itself must end. Taxpayers' money goes into the organisation. People don't need to know defence State secrets, but if there are breaches, intimidation and victimisation of junior staff by seniors, then those must be exposed.

Can West Indies learn from India?

It was not a miracle that saw India beat Australia Down Under in the four-match Test series just ended.

For well over a decade, India have invested in their cricketers, and the results are showing. And by investing, it does not mean money alone. It also involves faith.

With India, rated in the top four of world cricket, playing most of the series without many of their top quality players, including the world's best batsman, Virat Kohli, they still managed to conquer Australia, and did so in fine style.

Now, what can the West Indies learn from India? For starts, 17 of the Indian players who participated in the Test series have played in the Indian Premier League, the world's foremost Twenty/20 competition.

That would not happen if Roger Harper was India's chief selector, and had some of the people the West Indies have choosing teams, also on the panel.

Take left-handed batting sensation Rishabh Pant, for example who was consistent with the bat throughout the three matches that he played, and scored runs in every one, including the fourth Test in which he earned the man of the match award for his unbeaten 89 he would never have been selected by Harper. He, like West Indies batting star Nick Pooran, a player of similar style and ability, would have been seen as a short-version cricketer, and not of Test material. That is the kind of thinking that goes into West Indies cricket these days, which must first be corrected if positives are to be had.

As for the shambles in Bangladesh now, well, no one could say it wasn't unexpected. What is shocking, however, is that in the first two One-Day Internationals played up to Friday, the West Indies could not even make 150 off its 50 overs in any of them.

I am certain that if I pick up my usual 'curry goat' cricket team now and go to Bangladesh we could get past the 150 mark against the home side with little fuss. And that team would not include any current day cricketer. I am talking one that includes Delano Franklyn, who would not be allowed to bowl, as his beamers would always go beyond the boundary; Delroy Morgan, Nehemiah Perry, Deron Dixon, Winford Williams, Rohan Daley, Audley Boyd, Richard Delapenha, Daren Powell, Donovan Pagon, and myself.

Paul Buchanan, who it seemed played for Jamaica a little after Columbus' coming, would go as 12th man due to his inability now to pick up the line of the ball, and Dr Patrick Dallas as 13th man, or emergency fielder, though it would take him about two hours for him to get onto field if he is required to.

What a thing that West Indies cricket has become.

Good start by Biden

Already, we are seeing the realisation of forward-thinking by the 46th president of the United States of America, Joe Biden.

To follow the overused cliche that Biden has hit the ground running would be wasting energy. President Joe has been spot on so far, and it appears that Americans who wanted to see the return of Donald “Misfit” Trump are slowly realising that there could be better days ahead for them soon.

Already, the Senate has approved two of the president's nominees without a fuss, which is an indication that Republicans are also putting their country first.

A fully energised United States is good for the world. Trump's coming might have set certain things back by up to 25 years, but it doesn't mean that things cannot be corrected. The signs are good so far.


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