Looking for a commissioner or a “Bobolee”?

By Raffique Shah
July 25, 2018

Raffique ShahI pity the poor bugger who finds favour with both government and opposition parties to be appointed the new Commissioner of Police. If that wretched soul happens to be Captain Gary Grffith as reported in the Sunday Express, then I’ll do something I’ve not done in 50-odd years: I’ll fall on my knees and pray that Jah makes the purgatory of that post easy for him for the few months that he would become the “Chief Bobolee” to blame for the crime epidemic that no mortal can mitigate, far less eradicate.

It is clear to me that this nation, which collectively manufactured the criminal enterprise, the only growth “industry” outside of oil, gas and petrochemicals, that is worth billions of dollars per year and “employs” thousands of mostly young people, never wanted a commissioner who would bring crime under control.

On the one hand, the average citizen wants a superman who would magically reduce the bloodletting, the gore that affects their sensitivities, the dastardly criminal acts that may hit home. But the “Commish” must ignore “small t’ings” such as inspection of motor vehicles, driving on the shoulders of the highways, stealing State and even private properties, and so on.

For the suppliers of illegal arms, ammunition and narcotics, any successful assault on serious crimes would mean putting them out of business. Security providers, too, whose survival or profits depend on continuing crime, would be quite unhappy with a crime-free country. And most of all, the legal fraternity, many of whom became multi-millionaires off the criminal enterprise, would mourn the demise of rampant crime.

So anyone who is aspiring to become the new Commissioner, and who believes he has a plan to rein in crime, should think carefully before accepting the appointment, especially when this is at the behest of politicians.

Why were Canadians Dwyane Gibbs and Jack Ewatski, CoP and Deputy CoP respectively, who seemed to be serious about curbing crime when they were hired by the People’s Partnership Government in November 2010, hounded out of office in 2012?

The duo had no political- or self-interest here. They did not qualify to vote in our elections, nor did they have connections with the “Police Mafia” or local criminals. They were simply professionals seeking to do their jobs.

Yet, they were constructively dismissed by the then Minister of National Security, who just happened to be one Jack Warner! Jack, whose ill-repute would later resonate from Zurich to Qatar to New York, and who has been fighting extradition to the USA to face a series of serious felonies, all but fired the last real commissioner and deputy commissioner we had.

Worse for the country’s reputation, Gibbs’ and Ewatski’s resignations were happily accepted by then PM Kamla Persad-Bissessar and her entire Cabinet. That was when an already bad crime situation turned worse, when pillage of the Treasury became plunder, and when illegal firearms and ammunition started flooding the country.

Thereafter, the process of selecting persons for the top positions became so convoluted one might speculate that the politicians were happy with the stalemate. It allowed them to abuse Stephen Williams by making him the first permanently acting CoP in the world—six years of six-month extensions—and adding insult to injury, rejecting his nomination for the job on the eve of his retirement.

What heartless crooks!

All of which make me question why any sane person, most of all a professional, and in Griffith’s case a Sandhurst-trained officer, would demean himself by accepting such appointment.

If he does, and this is all speculation as I write, he would be a fourth choice for the job, the top three having come through the ranks of the Service, and who, understandably, would hardly be happy to have Griffith as their boss.

It matters not that his jilted rivals spent 30-odd years in the Service and served at almost every level possible, that while crime escalated and they did nothing significant to prove their worth. What would change for the better if anyone of them were given the Commissioner’s cap tomorrow?

Nothing.

They know and they understand that. But they also know that the “Police Mafia” would be more inclined to tolerate them than outsiders like Gibbs and Ewatski in the past, or Griffith tomorrow.

If I come across as being negative towards the most serious issue facing the nation today, I plead guilty—but with good reasons.

I cite the politicians: when rumours surfaced recently that law enforcement was clamping down on motorists who had failed to have their vehicles inspected and certified, there was a rush and a howl from people who knew the law but deliberately flouted it.

How did the line minister respond? He granted an extension of time, just as his predecessors had done on several occasions. Message to motorists? Ignore the law.

I cite the police: a uniformed cop is captured on video gambling on what was likely an illegal slot machine. The response from a senior officer who, incidentally, was an applicant for the CoP job? Don’t judge the officer…he may have been on a fact-finding mission!

You tell me: is anyone—citizen, police or politician—serious about fighting crime or appointing a professional police commissioner?

4 Responses to “Looking for a commissioner or a “Bobolee”?”


  • Gary is the favoured son who has returned home, so Rowley is killing the fatted calf.

    Gary was name by Rowley in the emailgate scandal, and so during the debate I am sure the PM will put that issue to rest by declaring emailgate as fake.

    Then there is the triangulation between his chum Rex West, Ramlogan and him. Gary is witness as to an alleged attempt to pervert the course of justic. Ramlogan was a shark who was set to devour the crooks in the PNM until he got caught in the Gary net.So the CoP position might be a reward for loyalty.

    Gary and his wife were members of the COP. When it comes to politics they are all friends. They rub, massage and scratch each other’s back. Just ask Gypsy the back scratcher who was given a plum position recently much to the chargrin of Isha Wells, long time PNM activist.

    As for crime plan and crime reduction, illiterate PNM supporters mainly young boys don’t care about those things. They will still continue as PNM cowboys living in the wild Wild West.Potow potow!

  • is the whole process null and void or is it only a part, how can a COP be chosen with a bad process. And what about Hayde position.

  • I saw this publication from Dr. Fuad Khan
    Member of Parliament for the Barataria/San Juan Constituency
    and thought it was specific to the point as to the shortfall in the Police Service compared to the Defence Force.

    “I must congratulate the Police Service in their use of drones to locate and recover a vehicle owned by the Ministry of Transport which had been reported stolen earlier this week. That being said, until the police begin demonstrating the same vigilance in dealing with matters for civilians as they have been shown to be capable of with the government, public trust and confidence in their organization will remain low. Upon learning of this exercise however, I was immediately reminded of the blimp which was purchased by the Patrick Manning administration in their efforts to increase surveillance and curb crime. Whereas the blimp was a complete failure, both in terms of the cost to purchase, operate and maintain the airship, as well as the lack of results it was able to produce due to its size, speed and noisiness which alerted anyone in its vicinity to its presence, these modern drones can succeed by being the complete opposite. This is the direction that the Police Service should be advancing if they are to defeat the criminal element that is plaguing our society. But this can only happen with progressive leadership to guide them into this modern era.

    As the debate for who will lead the Police Service continues, the government therefore needs to expand its field of scope and look beyond our law enforcement officials to fill these positions. While the Police Service is filled with persons dedicated to their profession, for whatever reason they have not demonstrated any desire for innovation that would assist them in their duties. During the Basdeo Panday administration, it was the adoption of cutting edge communication technology at the time and the creation of the E-999 Rapid Response Unit that was responsible for the decrease in crime rates to the lowest levels in our nation’s history. As these technologies have evolved and is now accessible to the general public, including the criminals, the Police need to improve their tactics and approach if they are to succeed.

    It is for these reasons that the government should therefore be considering employing someone from the private sector with managerial expertise, who exemplifies the innovation and critical thinking that the Police Service is currently lacking. By constantly promoting Police Officers through the ranks, this only creates and perpetuates a cycle of stagnancy and failure that they will not be able to escape. Employing someone with a proven track record in the private sector however, ensures that person is results oriented and would be able to create that same type of environment within the Police Service and convert it into a meritocracy rather than the public service model it currently employs. The fact is that the Defence Force has always employed persons with advanced Academic qualifications and Private Sector experience in Commissioned posts, which is part of the reason they boast of a better track record and higher public confidence. Until such time as the Police Service can evolve however, they will continue to lag behind the criminals who do not require years of debate and deliberation to choose their leaders.”

  • Undoubtedly, Gary Griffith is qualified and now the moment has come for him to deliver with expediency as was approved by the House this afternoon with the Opposition abstaining. It is the politics that is destroying the island.

    His words to the public: “I am intent on utilizing Leadership, Management, Accountability and Measurement of Performance as standards of practice, whilst implementing methodologies that will advance a strategic, future-oriented, targeted approach to crime control, focusing upon the identification, analysis & management of persisting and developing problems or risks, also known as Intelligence Led Policing”.

Leave a Reply to JEMCB