9 Mar 2012

Real reasons to criticise Gibbs

Never in the history of this nation has a police commissioner been subjected to as much public scrutiny and criticism as Dwayne Gibbs. Why? Because he is a white foreigner? Because he earns a large salary? Or is it something more obvious and base, something which nobody wants to say out loud?

It seems to me that during Gibbs’s short tenure, he has tried to change things. The mobile policing initiative has been a major innovation as has his attempt to introduce aerial surveillance at a fraction of the cost of the blimp (maybe he did not have the authority to enter into this contract, but surely, this was a misunderstanding of his authority and nothing more; would we have preferred that he did nothing?). It is also my perception that crime has declined, if even minimally. The visibility of the police, whether in vehicles or on foot, has improved dramatically over the last year.

Gibbs has also been responsible for trying to slowly change the culture of an incredibly corrupt organisation, and this has angered those who are happy with the Police Service the way it is. Transfers, promotions, closure of the canteen, investigations and probably a host of other measures and decisions that most of us don’t know about have obviously angered many people within the service. The PNM (People’s National Movement), for the first time in a long time, does not have a commissioner it feels is sympathetic towards it hence Rowley’s now customary low level of discourse. The Government, from the Prime Minister down, is just trying to stay on the right side of public opinion, putting aside all the real issues and coming across in true UNC (United National Congress) form as people without convictions or principles.

And Ramesh Deosaran and the PSC (Police Service Commission)? Well, this is the biggest joke of all. You come out and say the Commissioner has no respect for you, has no leadership skills and, basically, no ability to do his job, but it makes no sense to fire him? What position does publicly saying these things put the Commissioner in? What does this say about the PSC’s multimillion-dollar selection process that took months and decided that Gibbs had all of the qualities that you are now saying he doesn’t have?

Exactly what did Deosaran mean by saying the Commissioner has no respect for him? Was this personally or for his office? What exactly did the Commissioner do that was disrespectful? If you are publicly accusing someone of this and other things, shouldn’t you provide the proof?

I do not know the Police Commissioner, and I have not yet decided in my own mind whether his was a good appointment or not. I do think though the Police Service needs an outsider in charge for a while, someone who is not a part of the service’s (and country’s) culture of corruption.

What is clear is this Commissioner was brought in to fix a mess that will take years, if not decades, to truly fix. A year and a half is nothing. Are there any real reasons to fire Gibbs now? Absolutely not. Look at the performance of some of his predecessors, some of whom even had their tenures extended beyond retirement; Gibbs has clearly been an improvement.

What is obvious is our society continues to be one that revolves around what makes the “people” happy as opposed to what is genuinely good and right for this nation to progress. For this reason alone, Gibbs will probably be sent packing because he has gone about his job in a way that has offended the rank and file and many others; reform and crime-fighting be damned if they interfere with our precious Trini sensibilities.

Welcome to the Third World, Gibbs, to the land of commess and mauvais langue. And, also, farewell.

David Hyatali