Canadian is CoP

Dwayne Gibbs, 55, a superintendent of police in Alberta, Canada, was selected as the country’s next top cop after the People’s Partnership Government voted overwhelmingly for him during last evening’s sitting of the House of Representatives.

During the division, presided over by House Speaker Wade Mark, some 25 MPs voted for Gibbs while ten PNM MPs, including Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley, abstained from the process.

Former prime minister and San Fernando East MP Patrick Manning and Laventille East/Morvant MP Donna Cox were not in the Parliament Chamber when the vote was taken at 6.40 pm. Four of the Government’s MPs were not in the Chamber at the time of the vote. No one had voted against Gibbs.

The announcement of Gibb’s selection for the post of Police Commissioner came exactly one week after the Parliament rejected another Canadian Neal Parker for the position.

Parker, who had placed first in an evaluation exercise conducted by the Justice and Saftey Institute of Penn State University, was rejected after it was discovered that he had sat on the evaluation team that reviewed CoP candidates in 2008.

The situation, MPs agreed, may have compromised the process.

On that occasion, Penn State had recommended Stephen Williams for the top cop post, but he was rejected by the then PNM government.

This time around, Williams, who had been shortlisted for the post of Deputy Police Commissioner by Penn State, as well as another local Maurice Piggott, have both been confirmed in the post. Another Canadian John Ewatski has also been appointed as a Deputy Police Commissioner.

It is believed that Gibbs, who was the second-rated nominee in Penn State’s latest evaluation, has never been affiliated with the recruiting process.

Gibbs’ selection has also effectively ended the tenure of Acting Police Commissioner James Philbert, who had recently been granted a fourth extension by the Police Service Commission until to September 30. Philbert is currently in Grenada.

Last evening, as he wound up a brief but spirited debate on the controversial issue, Government Chief Whip Dr Roodal Moonilal regarded Gibbs’ appointment as an historic day for the country in terms of the fight against crime.

Acknowledging that the murder rate would not decrease overnight as a result of the appointment, he said the average man in the street did not care whether the person appointed was local or foreign.

“Whether it is a local or foreigner, they do not care if it is Dwayne Gibbs, Lance Gibbs or Andy Gibbs, let us move on to the next challenge,” Moonilal said amid frenzied desk-thumping from the Government bench.

Moonilal also sought to validate Gibbs’ selection, saying the Government was satisfied that he had met the criteria by virtue of his qualifications.

Earlier, Rowley insisted that the Opposition would not have supported Gibbs on grounds that he may have not been properly qualified for the post.

Rowley took issue with the fact that Gibbs had received a Masters and Doctorate degree from California Coast University in 2006, both of which he regarded as questionable.

He claimed the university was not a reputable institution and had been known to grant people degrees for a price.

“I am not trying to be difficult but to fix something that is fundamentally flawed,” Rowley said.

He also said that Piggott, who had placed eighth on Penn State’s merit list, may have been better qualified.

Rowley said the new legislation for the process for the appointment of a commissioner should ensure that there were no foreign-based evaluators.

“It brings nothing to the table but a bill,” he said.

“Cut out this use of foreign evaluation and limit the field of search to locals or nationals overseas.”

He said the Parliament must be involved in the process “but not on a partisan basis.”

Gibbs, who could not be reached for comment last evening, is expected to take up to three weeks to finalise the terms of his contract, which includes salary and working conditions.


"Canadian is CoP"

More in this section