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Burning questions for Acting Commissioner Williams

Sunday, August 5, 2012

With the imminent yet mystifying public resignations and departure of Canadians Dwayne Gibbs and Jack Ewatski, former Commissioner and Deputy Commissioner of Police respectively, the way has now been cleared for a new Police Commissioner and others in the executive to be installed through another recruitment process. In the interim, Stephen Williams, will act as the Police Commissioner. I will address him later in the article.


However, the rather sudden and premature ending to Gibbs and Ewatski contractual terms may not have been the ideal way for to demit office as relevant public questions as to their timing and hasty exit will continue to engage public commentary. 



Questions arising from their departure may focus on whether public confidence in the People’s Partnership (PP) continues to plummet as a result of the stagnant economy, other reasons, or Gibb’s failure to deal with rising criminal activities in a meaningful and effective way.


These matters will continue to be the subject of national debate. Whatever the reasons given for their resignations, one hopes it was in keeping with good governance and not at the expense of due process and rule of law.

Lessons for Gibbs and Ewatski
During their terms, both Gibbs and Ewatski must have learnt early on in their employment, the politics of policing and the difficulties in transforming a police culture enmeshed in a society, subtly intertwined with the layers of corruption and flowered with absence of transparency and accountability.


Prior to their arrival here, they should have understood that as foreigners coming to Trinidad and to Tobago to manage a demoralized Police Service would have incurred the silent wrath of officers by firstly, issues of promotion for local officers, secondly, the type of salaries that they would command.


Thirdly, it would take time for officers to buy into their type of thinking and trust. Initial warning signs from the political directorate and the Second Division of the Police Service, along with the absence of consultations on the State of Emergency should have alerted Gibbs of impending conflict and danger.


While Gibbs may have been eager to implement his transformation drive, he may not have fully grasped the underpinnings and interlocking sinews of this society. Furthermore, he did not have the experience of being a Chief of Police in Canada, and was never saddled with the complex challenges facing a Police Service.  


In Alberta, Gibbs resigned as a Superintendent of the Edmonton Police Service. Generally, Canadian policeoOfficers, are not only well-educated, but well-mannered and function in a society where people are mostly law abidin. This is unlike an ill-disciplined society like Trinidad and Tobago. As a matter of fact, the locomotive engine that may be driving this society is an amalgamation of legitimate and illegitimate activities. Such a union breeds a certain type of behaviour.

Police Academy Must Be Realistic
To a great extent, the Police Academy training programme under Gibbs appeared flawed in certain dimensions just like the criminal justice programmes at Costaat and UWI. This is an area that should engage the attention of Acting CoP Williams. These tertiary level programmes may be designed to produce graduates for police, prisons, social services, and graduate studies.


Unfortunately, a close scrutiny indicates an absence of an indepth relationship and relevance to national security, transnational organized crimes, intelligence, immigration, customs and international criminal law in the development of its curriculum. This must be remedied. What will be Acting Commissioner Williams Agenda?


The burning question therefore is can Stephen Williams bring eaningful and effective changes to the Police Service and, most importantly, bring a level of sanity to stem the horrendous crime rate? It is important to note that the Acting Commissioner is well-educated, has over 30 years experience, and would have observed all the significant limitations, strengths and insidious influence of the political directorate in the Police Service.


Additionally,Williams would no doubt have witnessed and abhorred the seeds of corruption that have matured and grown into “the Berlin Wall”. Every time, a police officer goes before the courts for murder, rape, theft, selling drugs, possession of illegal firearms, drugs, child molestation, kidnapping, or involvement in the slave trade, that is a stark reminder of the deviation of the Code of Ethics from the Police Service and an absence of understanding of national security.  


Police officers conducting themselves in this abhorrent and despicable manne, constitute a threat to the Police Service, the public and national security. This is a crucial area that Acting CoP Williams must attend. If he is unable to make any difference, you can bet political pressure will descend upon him like a tornado twisting his intelligence and mind. Next week: When education, intelligence and diplomacy have a morality of their own.


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