Manitoba

Canadians leave top police posts in Trinidad and Tobago

A former Alberta law enforcer and a former Winnipeg police chief are resigning from the police force in Trinidad and Tobago, where they were top officials.

A former Alberta law enforcer and a former Winnipeg police chief are resigning from the police force in Trinidad and Tobago, where they were top officials.

Dwayne Gibbs, a former Edmonton Police Services superintendent, is leaving his post as the islands' police commissioner, while former Winnipeg police chief Jack Ewatski is resigning as deputy commissioner, according to officials in that country.

Dwayne Gibbs, who has been commissioner of police in Trinidad and Tobago since 2010, is expected to resign on Aug. 7. (Trinidad and Tobago Police Services)

Gibbs and Ewatski were recruited two years ago to tackle escalating crime, including gang violence, in the southern Caribbean nation.

In a terse statement issued late Monday, Trinidad's Police Service Commission said the resignations of Gibbs and Ewatski are effective Aug. 7.

On Tuesday, the country's Police Service Commission announced that Stephen Williams will serve as acting commissioner until January 2013.

Minutes after the commission made its initial announcement, Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar gave a televised address saying National Security Minister Jack Warner will soon announce a new strategy to fight crime.

Warner has publicly criticized the two Canadian police officials for their law enforcement strategies in recent weeks.

Earlier this year, the pair also received negative performance reviews by the Police Service Commission.

Leaving for 'personal reasons'

In a joint statement, both Ewatski and Gibbs said their decision to leave "was based on our own personal reasons."

"We are happy to be able to put certain measures in place, which we hope will continue to make the public of Trinidad and Tobago feel safer and secure," the statement reads in part.

Jack Ewatski, seen in a CBC-TV interview in 2006, retired as Winnipeg's chief of police in 2007. He was later appointed deputy police commissioner in Trinidad and Tobago. (CBC)

The two officers cited a "25 per cent reduction in homicides," as well as recent measures such as the creation of a professional standards unit to deal with corruption-related issues within the police force.

"We [recognize] however, there is still much more to be done and we are certain that the fine officers in the [organization] will continue to serve the citizens of Trinidad and Tobago to the best of their ability," Gibbs and Ewatski said in the statement.

"We have no regrets accepting the positions and we hope that Trinidad and Tobago will become a more peaceful place."

Ewatski retired as Winnipeg's chief of police in 2007 following 34 years of service, including almost nine years in the top job.

Bruce MacFarlane, Manitoba's former deputy justice minister, said Ewatski faced an uphill battle as deputy police commissioner in Trinidad and Tobago.

"I saw that he was constantly under the gun in the country to which he went, and [he] was seen as an outsider … that's always a tough one to respond to," MacFarlane said.

"You don't really understand the community … you're applying principles from another country, and that's not going to work. So it's tough in that sense."

With files from The Associated Press