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Devon Dick | Elephants can paint in Thailand

Published:Wednesday | July 19, 2017 | 12:00 AM

Recently, I witnessed elephants paint beautiful pictures at the Maesa Elephant Camp, Chiang Mai in Thailand. For the elephants to reach this level of dexterity it took time, resources and a deliberate plan. In 1976, when this tourist attraction was established, there was an average of eight visitors daily. Now that figure is in the hundreds. A patient process. These elephants can also play football, throw darts and stack logs. Their paintings are being sold for US$100.

For the elephants to achieve the level of artistry to produce quality paintings they had to go through a process with 23 steps. In addition, they have to be adequately resourced, hence, they are fed six tons of food daily. These elephants are smart and discerning. When given a hand of bananas and/or a small bundle of cane, they will take it with their trunks and eat it.

However, when given money they take it in the trunk; they do not eat it but pass it on to their trainers.

There is much we can learn from the approach of training elephants to paint and how to tackle the crime monster. One cannot cut corners and say we will use four tons of food instead of six tons to feed the elephants. Similarly, the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) has to be adequately resourced to cut the murder rate dramatically. Crime-fighting ought to be treated like electoral matters. Whatever financial resources are needed by the technical persons to run a successful election, it is given. In addition, there should be a body similar to the Electoral Advisory Commission with political representatives and independent members to oversee the management of crime management. We have a world-class electoral system and we can have a similar situation with crime-fighting.


Attractive salary for commish


Since human life is important and losing 1,500 lives each year seems worse than a civil war, then we need to get the best minds in place to manage this crime-fighting phenomenon. It means that the commissioner of police should be paid better than a chief executive officer of a bank. An annual salary of a $100 million would be attractive so that we get the best and brightest minds in the Police High Command. We need to get persons who are qualified, fit and prepared. We can learn from the tourism industry and the improvements in arrivals. In Edmund Bartlett, we have the most experienced and most knowledgeable tourism Cabinet minister, whether Jamaica Labour Party or People's National Party, and in the director of tourism, Paul Pennicook, we have the most qualified Jamaican who has held senior positions with Sandals, Couples and Air Jamaica. Is it any wonder that this dynamic duo of good policies and competent management have resulted in improvements in tourism? Therein lies the paradigm for success in crime management. It is having qualified, fit and prepared persons who are adequately financed and supported.

Furthermore, the JCF is not getting the respect that is due. Take a simple thing as retaining titles. Once one has serve within the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF), whether as colonel, major or captain, one retains the title for life. However, it is not so for members of the JCF. They are really seen as the poor cousins of the JDF.

Additionally, how could a person be trained for six months and then be sent to the streets to serve as a police? Persons should be properly trained for two or three years before being asked to go out to serve and protect.

If elephants can be trained to paint, then we should realise that there is so much more we can do. There is an elephant in the room, a murderous spirit that needs to be tamed and trained, and we can learn much from elephants in Thailand that paint.