In the wake of Gibbs and Ewatski
Did they fall or were they pushed? Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar may have refused to answer any questions after her five-minute address to the nation on Monday night, but the simultaneous resignations of Police Commissioner Dwayne Gibbs and Deputy Commissioner Jack Ewatski demand a full explanation.
Given the public criticisms they have faced since they were hired, in particular from the Police Service Commission (PSC) and exacerbated by the adversarial stance of the Police Social Welfare Association, it is understandable that the two Canadian-trained officers might have felt this crime row too hard to hoe. And, with new National Security Minister Jack Warner transgressing boldly where no National Security Minister had gone before, Messrs Gibbs and Ewatski might have learned enough about Trinidad and Tobago to take in front before in front took them.
The Government and the PSC will have to explain what led to this turn of events. Did the two top cops decide that they could not work with Mr Warner because of his expressed criticisms of Dr Gibbs? Or did the Government decide that reducing crime would be more effectively served by a different leadership of the Police Service? If the latter, then the Prime Minister must provide a rationale for such drastic action.
Taxpayers' dollars have, once again, been poured down the crime-fighting drain since, after two years, the many promises made with Dr Gibbs' expensive appointment have not been fulfilled. In that sense, his resignation, whether offered or asked for, may be justified. But T&T is no better off than before.
Instead, the country finds itself in a situation where the top cop, whoever he may be, will be acting as Commissioner. This creates a perception that the Police Service is headed by someone more vulnerable to political pressures and one who is not the best choice. The PSC is constrained by the arduous process now enshrined in law for choosing a new candidate, which means that a permanent CoP is unlikely to be appointed within the near future. Meanwhile, crime continues unabated.
Prime Minister Persad-Bissessar in her national address promised to reveal new crime-fighting initiatives by next week. Citizens will certainly be anxious to hear what plans are afoot which have not been tried before. More of the same, whether it's fancier equipment or the old threat of hangings, is unlikely to impress. Nor did her call for citizens to support the tarnished Mr Warner lend grounds for confidence.
With all this, the new acting CoP will have to hit the ground running. Public patience has grown ever shorter, and he will have little, if any, time to show that he is innovative, independent, and in charge.