The Police Service Commission (PSC) yesterday expressed concern that Police Commissioner Dwayne Gibbs and Deputy Commissioner Jack Ewatski left the country without proper leave of absences. A strongly worded three-page release from the PSC's Public Education Unit pointed out that both men left the country without following established procedures and protocols. "Neither of these two gentlemen have sought to notify us properly of their absences," the PSC said. The T&T Guardian was reliably informed that Gibbs is back in the country but Ewatski is still abroad on private business. The commission said while Gibbs was out of the country for less than seven days, "questions may arise as to the absence" of Ewatski. According to the PSC, the services of the Commissioner or Deputy Commissioner may be terminated "where the officer is absent for seven consecutive days, during which he has failed to notify the Police Service Commission of the cause of his absence, whether he holds a permanent, temporary, or contractual appointment."
The commission expressed concern that CoP Gibbs and Deputy Commissioner Ewatski have been "conspicuously absent from the forefront of the current arrangements in the country, particularly as it relates to the current state of emergency and the accompanying policing arrangements." The PSC release added: "The Police Service Commission has been provided with no forwarding address for these two gentlemen, nor any overseas contact telephone numbers for them. "In their absence, Deputy Commissioner of Police Stephen Williams has been at the lead for these arrangements in what is in effect a depleted Police Service executive." The PSC pointed out that while Williams has been referred to in media reports as the acting Commissioner of Police, he was not officially appointed to act in that capacity during Gibbs' absence from the country.
As a result, "there can be serious implications and consequences" because Legal Notice No 164 The Emergency Powers Curfew Order 2011 was issued under the hand of Deputy Commissioner Williams purporting to be the acting Commissioner of Police. The PSC also said it had not heard from Gibbs or Ewatski about the plans and objectives of the Police Service during the state of emergency which was described as "the most significant national security initiative in this country in years." The release continued: "The Police Service Commission is mindful of the tremendous sacrifice and inconvenience to be endured by the general public during this time and wishes to know the specific goals and objectives of the Police Service during this time so as to assist in the assessments and appraisals of both Commissioner Gibbs and Deputy Commissioner Ewatski."
According to the PSC, they will be seeking to find out whether contingencies and safeguards will be put in place to ensure there are no breaches of the rights of members of the public during the state of emergency.
The commission underscored the importance of getting the public's support, trust and confidence that "exercises will be carried out in a fair, balanced and humane manner, with the fullest respect for the dignity of persons and their property and devoid of excesses and abuses of power." The PSC said both men will be given the fullest opportunity to be heard and they will be asked to "explain and account for their absences." In addition, the PSC said it was "a matter of grave concern" that Commissioner Gibbs was detained for some hours in Brazil upon entering that country to attend a conference. "We, as yet, have heard nothing from Commissioner Gibbs in relation to this incident, which by media reports, appears to be a tremendous embarrassment, not only to the Police Service of Trinidad and Tobago and by extension the Police Service Commission, but also to the entire nation of Trinidad and Tobago as it appears that his detention may have been the result of Commissioner Gibbs not having a visa for such entry into Brazil." The PSC said it intends to complete its appraisal of Commissioner Gibbs and Deputy Commissioner Ewatski in the near future and will report to the public accordingly.