You are here
Gibbs, Ewatski fail to convince
The statements of Commissioner Gibbs and his deputy Jack Ewatski about their “personal reasons” fail to convince that the two Canadian police officers simply got up one morning and in unison decided they were going to resign their jobs. Clearly the message had been sent to them that if they were not prepared to “jump,” then they would be “pushed” from their offices in the police headquarters.
The situation becomes even clearer with the release from the office of the Attorney General that the two have each received ex-gratia payments totalling over $1.2 million, sums which approximate what they would have earned if they had finished the remaining year of their three-year contract with the State.
Meanwhile, National Security Minister Jack Warner has been keeping an uncharacteristically low profile and has been unusually silent on the meetings reportedly held on the issue last week, while the Prime Minister avoided any questioning from journalists when she announced the resignation of the two on Monday night.
Surely these public officials—who slammed the former Manning administration for its high-handedness—should be more transparent with the country on what is essentially the business of the people of Trinidad and Tobago. There cannot be any secret dealings with a CoP and his deputy, who were both recruited at enormous trouble and expense and given the onerous task of fighting crime.
The fact is that Mr Warner, from the moment he took up the portfolio of national security, has been waging a relentless war, not against criminals, but against Commissioner Gibbs. In the circumstances, the message was clearly sent to Messrs Gibbs and Ewatski that they would not have his support for their plans and so could accomplish little.
Moreover, with Mr Warner openly siding with the Police Social and Welfare Association, which has been critical of the CoP and his plans, it was a straight case of the Commissioner being undermined by his line minister. One element of the studied attacks against Commissioner Gibbs was Mr Warner’s selection of one aspect of the 21st-century policing initiative— putting the police out on the streets to heighten their visibility, shorten their response time and act as a deterrent, rather than tying them down in the dozens of redundant police stations that this country boasts.
Mr Warner’s criticism is especially irrational because, despite its name, in many regards the initiative consists of a return to back-to-basics, common-sense police work.
Community policing, more frequent patrols, greater accountability —all of these are parts of the project —and are also all approaches which have had the support of Mr Warner. The logical conclusion, then, is that Mr Warner is implacably opposed to the initiative not because it is ineffectual or unworkable but because it was put in place by CoP Gibbs and Mr Ewatski.
What option, therefore, was left to them but to resign? One immediate consequence of the departure of CoP Gibbs under this tremendous political pressure is that the country is being returned to a situation in which a Commissioner is acting in the position without the security of tenure that could give him the kind of autonomy and authority needed by a police commissioner.
Placed in such a position, the incoming acting commissioner may find it very difficult to act independently of the political directorate. Worse, the next substantive holder of the office, whoever he may be, will also be painfully aware of the fate of Mr Gibbs when he fell foul of the executive. The months ahead will prove difficult for acting CoP Stephen Williams—and possibly for the citizens whose safety rests in his hands.
User comments posted on this website are the sole views and opinions of the comment writer and are not representative of Guardian Media Limited or its staff. Guardian Media Limited accepts no liability and will not be held accountable for user comments.
Please help us keep out site clean from inappropriate comments by using the flag option.
Guardian Media Limited reserves the right to remove, to edit or to censor any comments. Any content which is considered unsuitable, unlawful or offensive, includes personal details, advertises or promotes products, services or websites or repeats previous comments will be removed.