It took Trinidad and Tobago five years to find in Dwayne Gibbs a buttoned-down police bureaucrat, when it was really looking for a man on horseback.
The rapid decline and fall of Dr Gibbs necessarily coincided with the rise in expectation for a Flying Squad, whose history National Security Minister Jack Warner has nostalgically invoked.
The Flying Squad, fondly recalled as a hard-riding troop of police who took as few prisoners as possible, had remained an option in search of an advocate.
Mr Warner emerged as unabashed champion of that yearning for a strike force charged to respond in kind to the most ruthless of crimes and criminals.
From as far back as anyone cares to remember, "crime" has topped the agenda of public-affairs concerns. For at least as long, T&T has sworn by the article of faith that to do something about the police is, by definition, and simultaneously, to do something about crime.
July 27, 1990 afforded eye-opening recognition of the Police Service as both a defeated force and a body bereft of mission.
Police Headquarters was reduced to smoking ruins and, capacity to anticipate and interdict crime demonstrably devastated, professional pride was shot.
Crime has since surged, but the comeback by the police has been more rhetorical than real.
They lobbied successfully for the rebuilding of the headquarters, and for the words "with pride" to be added to their motto, "To Protect and Serve".
In 2010, Commissioner Gibbs and deputy Jack Ewatski formed clear first impressions of equally low public esteem and police self-esteem.
"We are working diligently to create a Police Service that T&T can be proud of and requires," said Dr Gibbs.
We got Dr Gibbs' trademark officialese, when we really wanted a Western sheriff growling, "Make my day", and squinting in the faces of unsuspecting criminals. In T&T-style dramatic irony, Patrick Manning, leading man of the years since 1990, came back into town last week, just as Dr Gibbs, salient product of his policy legacy was about to leave.
Gibbs' coming and going represent the outcome of the doings and the influence of he who was prime minister for 12 of the post-1990 years. Mr Manning first tried, in the early 1990s, to install a foreign Police Commissioner and to parachute Scotland Yard veterans into the senior ranks.
Local commissioner Jules Bernard was to be retired "in the public interest".
That effort was frustrated by the Police Service Commission's refusal to retire Bernard.
The hand of executive overreach was stung. Not discouraged, Mr Manning at his next opportunity moved to abolish the Commission, to retain American consultants for "transforming" the Police Service and, once again, to acquire a foreign Commissioner.
Meanwhile, his conspicuous 2004 photo op, personally presenting the letter of appointment as Commissioner to Everald Snaggs, alarmed the UNC opposition over what looked like ever-vaulting Manning ambition.
The Opposition effectively resisted the administration's police reform legislation, and negotiated elaborate compromise arrangements to ensure the Prime Minister could not simply install as Commissioner whomever he wanted.
It took five years, and a change of government, before the House could approve Canadian Dwayne Gibbs as Commissioner.
At least in principle, however, Mr Manning had won. The hard-fought process (engagement of foreign head-hunting firm, international advertisement of vacancy, screening, vetting, interviewing, short-listing, selection by PSC) remains to block any quick choice of successor to Dr Gibbs.
"We have put ourselves in a fine mess starting with the process of choosing a Police Commissioner," Reginald Dumas observed. He was commenting on the bungled performance evaluation by the Public Service Commission of Dr Gibbs and two deputies.
Mr Dumas' statesmanlike use of "we" is unlikely to be widely appreciated in the current mood of finger pointing inside Parliament and out. Non-stop discovery of dead bodies in alleyways or in irrigation ponds have accordingly to be held for the account of somebody.
Dr Gibbs, best remembered for his cerebral 21st Century Initiative, will be scapegoated for having lacked a "plan" to combat surging murders and other crimes.
Trading on populist ignorance of 21st Century Policing ideas and methods Mr Warner denounced the closing of police stations. Before the dormitories were dismantled on Gibbs-Ewatski orders, those were hardly action stations, but places where officers habitually skulked and slept through much of their alleged 24-hour shifts.
The reaction now in full sway, loss-making police canteens may well also be reopened.
Dr Gibbs' introduction of new uniforms, long resisted, will be no more; policewomen, encumbered by their regulation straight skirts, will be left to squat or kneel on the highways.
After years of unavailing effort to "fight crime" by fixing the police, unfinished business, including the term and the programme of the first new-era commissioner, is the best there is to show. Maybe somebody has the formula for resurrecting a brain-dead police service, for restoring dynamism to the profession of policing, and for riding hard against the bandit hordes.
That somebody has kept real quiet.