The Police Service is in a state of turmoil and even before Canadians Dwayne Gibbs and Jack Ewatski assumed office as police commissioner and deputy police commissioner respectively, there were managerial problems, former head of the Police Service Commission (PSC) Kenneth Lalla has said. Lalla was responding to report in the Sunday Guardian which said Gibbs and Ewatski were to be axed and the man to be named as the next top cop was Deputy Police Commissioner Stephen Williams. Gibbs and Ewatski have tendered their resignations effective August 7. A source said last night both Gibbs and Ewatski were approached by the Ministry of National Security to have their contracts bought out. The spokesman said both Gibbs and Ewatski felt they had no choice but to accept the offer. The two Canadians took up their posts in September 2010 and were just about one month shy of completing their second year of their three-year contract. The source said months before their resignation both men were disappointed because they felt they were being unfairly targeted even by the Police Social and Welfare Association because of the mere fact they were foreigners. Ewatski confirmed last night that both he and Gibbs had tendered their resignations.
Lalla, who spoke in a telephone interview before the announcement of the resignations, said, “It appears to me the Police Service is in a state of turmoil because of management and a culture in the Police Service which has been frustrating its efficiency and effectivenesss. “On that question, that the two officers are foreigners and therefore foreign to the culture of Trinidad and Tobago... even in their absence the Police Service was still under-performing and it would seem to me to have been all circumscribed around the management deficiency, which continues to the present time.” The decision to abolish the former Police Service Commission and replace it with a new one was propelled by political expediency rather than wisdom, Lalla added. He said: “This is a situation which was brought about by political expediency rather than on the basis of rationalisation and it had created the situation where we are in a very awkward position with the police — whether foreigners or local.” He said over the years, politicians had manipulated the Constitution by abolishing the commission and replacing it. Lalla noted that under Section 85 of the Constitution the Minister of National Security had control of the Police Service, therefore the minister must ensure the commissioner and the Police Service functioned satisfactorily. He said if the commissioner’s performance was unsatisfactory then the minister had an interest.
However, he explained, there was the Police Service Commission which was empowered to monitor and exercise control over the commissioner and the deputy commissioner’s ability for efficiency. He said the minister was entitled to express his view on whether he was satisfied with the performance of the commissioner and the deputy commissioner. Lalla said in his view the minister may wish to submit his findings or assessment of the commissioner and the deputy commissioner to the commission and the commission, in deliberation, may or may not agree with him. The former PSC chairman said the commission also had the power to terminate the contracts of both Gibbs and Ewatski even on a mere “whim,” he said. But the Canadians, he added, would have had the right to seek legal redress if they believed their contracts were wrongfully terminated. Lalla said a few years ago he delivered an address to the International Police Association at the Hilton Trinidad and Conference Centre and emphasised that collaboration between the police and the community was basic and fundamental to ridding society of crime. Saying the police could not function without an effective intelligence service and the co-operation of informants who come from the community, Lalla said if the community feared the police, then it was clear the effective prosecution of those committing crimes would “clearly be frustrated.” He added: “The country is in a state of siege as a result of crime and there appears to be no end to it.” On whether Gibbs and Ewatski were being unfairly treated, Lalla said that was a matter for the commission, which had the managerial responsibility for the Police Service. Contacted yesterday on whether he was pleased with the performance of Gibbs and Ewatski, Opposition leader Dr Keith Rowley declined to comment.