Sun | Dec 10, 2023

Was it worth it?

Published:Sunday | February 10, 2013 | 12:00 AM
Les Green has been hit with criticism, including from one-time British police colleague Mark Shields, for offensive comments about the Jamaican constabulary.-Gladstone Taylor/Photographer

Orville Taylor, Contributor

Jamaica's Reggae Boyz went into the fearsome Azteca and came out with a point. It is not as if we are the United States that could cancel the visas of the Mexican players and coaches. After all, Mexico has more natural resources, a larger population, and right now probably grows a better variety of the 'kushumpeng' than we do in Jamaica.

Furthermore, Jamaica had only one Dudus, but Mexico's drug gangs, with an estimated trade of US$35 billion-US$45 billion, have more money than Peter Phillips can count in his revised Budget. On top of that, they have numerous violent cartels. Our only Kartel is languishing in jail, perhaps fantasising on the Shades of Grey but more likely watching his skin vary among the shades of black.

On a one-by-one basis, there is absolutely no reason why Jamaica should have played Mexico to a standstill. Even if the game was being played in the National Stadium and played in English, the odds were supposed to be against the Jamaicans, who have a local coach and are ranked 56th in the world. Mexico is a giant. Dwarfing our 2.9 million, its population is around 115 million; its gross domestic product per capita is US$15,300, compared to Jamaica's US$9,100; Mexico City is just about the largest city in the hemisphere; and even the pets play fútbol.

There is something I saw last Wednesday night that tells me that, finally, we understand what it means to be Jamaican. For years, my contention has been that Jamaicans need to find a Jamaican identity in our football and play to the Jamaican rhythm. This means using our most distinctive characteristic Jamaican athletic prowess: our speed. Jamaicans are the fastest humans on the planet. Thus, it is as simple as uno, dos, tres. Incorporate the Jamaican speed with some football fundamentals. Pass accurately, kick, and nobody can chase down the forwards.

This is what many schoolboy coaches did in the1970s. Kingston College, for example, was notorious for having sprinters kick and run. However, we all wanted to play like the Brazilians or other foreigners.

The result in the match is a testimony of how well we can do when we focus on the things that distinguish us positively and those that we do well. It is the formula for industry, academia, and even law enforcement.


Last week, a former expatriate member of the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) made a number of negative statements about his stint here with the Jamaican police. This follows an earlier condemnation of Jamaican policing, and almost the country on the whole, by another senior British cop, who had come here and got the royal treatment.

Very disturbing, and for all that it is worth, Les Green's comments are at best offensive, whether they are true or not. There are two elements of his criticism which are as welcome as a wet mongrel indoors during the rain. First, he suggested that the detectives were disinclined to keep focus because they were so 'vaginocentric' that they could easily be swayed by an attractive woman or a shot of liquor. Amid a bumbling group of Third-World cops, this genius from Scotland Yard felt impotent with all the aforementioned distractions.

Second, for him, this was a trip back in time, and Jamaica's forensic capabilities were derided as being antiquated and substandard. Damn! Les must be a hell of a detective because he discovered what the police have been griping about for years.

I recall in my dealings with hard-working qualified good cops since the 1990s, that they have begged successive governments to beef up the technology and other infrastructural factors to help their policing. But then, that is the legacy of the Europeans: they arrive at a place where people were surviving before and say they are discoverers.

Green's first comments are stereotypical and fall into the same category of the donut-eating, coffee-drinking American metropolitan cop, who spends the stake-out thinking of a steak out and barbecue. Group it also with the typified civil servant who drapes a towel and jingles his ice at his desk; and, for good measure, the average ghetto youth who continuously mines palm gold and the imagery becomes more offensive.

While the negative attitude of Jamaican workers is legendary, I wonder if Green realises that around one out of every four investigators in the Major Investigations Task Force is female. He perhaps is thinking that this country has large numbers of lesbians in the force, too. His comments, right at the beginning of Black History Month, remind me of the caricatures and characterisations of African-originated British subjects in the form of a rag doll called a golliwog.


Nonetheless, as regards the comments of Green, and before him, former deputy commissioner, Mark Shields, I say to those whose idea it was to import them, "A good!" Or, serve yuh right. Sociologist Orlando Patterson and others like the late George Beckford understood what a colonial mentality is. It involves a devaluation of domestic things African (black) and an overvaluation of things European. Thus, 'black man nuh good' and 'you can't believe black man' are constant notions, even among politicians.

When the decision was made to seek British cops, there were two questions raised. First, were they more qualified than the locals? And second, how would they be remunerated and supported in doing their work? The fact is, qualified Jamaican police personnel have been hampered by lack of resources, and if the foreigners got them, it would be a slap in the face. Furthermore, the out-of-scale salaries could easily demotivate the locals, especially when the expatriates occupied positions that Jamaicans would have worked all their careers to achieve.

Furthermore, in 2005, a small delegation from the Black Police Officers' Association in the UK visited Jamaica, and in an interview on my talk show revealed that they formed the organisation because white police did not know how to police black people. Now, if they fall short in their abilities to police black Brits, 'How dem ago undastan yasso?'

What does the evidence suggest? Well, Mark Shields came in 2004 and opened the door for Green and later Justin Felice. Homicides climbed from 975 in 2003 to 1,471 in 2004, and to record numbers of 1,674 in 2005. During the tenure of the Brits, more police personnel were killed by criminals than in any other decade.

It is when Owen Ellington was given freer rein that the crime dipped in recent years, and more respect given to the capable Jamaicans. Can someone do an audit of the monetary packages of Shields, Green and Felice while they served the JCF, and juxtapose it against the cost of some of the equipment that were needed?

This is the country that took the original Reggae Boyz to France with mostly local talent. Theodore Whitmore just showed that we can do it again with a totally local coach. This is where a local coach took 10.70 Asafa Powell to 9.72. This country produced martial artists that have gone to Poland, USA and South Africa and won in the 1970s to the 1990s, and has a team that has gone to China and Japan and won, remaining undefeated for more than six years. That is like a Caucasian coming here and winning an ackee-eating contest.

Enough is enough! Jamaica first!

Dr Orville Taylor is senior lecturer in sociology at the UWI and a radio talk-show host. Email feedback to and