The United Nations Regional Centre for Peace, Disarmament and Development in Latin America and the Caribbean has been active in Belize recently, assisting with equipment for firearm destruction and training for the detection of illicit weapons.
It's part of their effort to reduce illicit armed trafficking and armed violence in the region and now they're offering training in Forensic Ballistics. That one day session entitled 'Overview of Forensic Ballistics for Decision-Makers and Policy-Makers' opened today and we found out more:
William Godnick - Public Security Programme Coordinator, UNLIREC
"They requested of the Government in the United Kingdom High Commission. They asked us to help on works in the forensic ballistics, and for that reason, we contracted one of the premier world experts in the subject matter."
Phillip Boyce - Forensic Scientist
"What I'm actually providing is general standard operating procedures, to give people an idea of all the procedures that they have to cover, in order that they don't miss any examination, and that they can actually cover all the evidence."
"Now, what level of expertise is required in order to effectively use this information for a criminal prosecution?"
"Normally, a ballistics expert needs about 5 years training."
Marisol Amaya - Krem News
"Can you expand a little bit more, if you can, on the assessment of existing capabilities in Belize, and then where you want to take them after this course? Where they will be?"
"Well yes, what I'll actually be doing is that I'm going to the forensic ballistic laboratory, talking to their personnel, looking at the equipment, and their facilities that they've got, so that I may recommend improvements. What I've actually drawn up is a set of 4 team's standard operating procedures which give very good general guide lines on the approach to the investigation of forensic ballistics."
According to the director of the forensic services department, they are presently building their database in IBIS.
Forensic Ballistics Training in Belize
Introductory Executive Seminar
David Henderson, former Commissioner of Police, is enjoying his new job as Director of the National Forensic Science Services Department. He said, “At the Forensics Department, I am in a position to work on a lot of things I saw the need for as Commissioner of Police. I am happy with these new developments.” One of the developments he was referring to is the Integrated Ballistics Identification System (IBIS). On Monday, March 18th, Henderson official opened a forensic ballistics training course for local law enforcement officers.
The course is being sponsored by the British High Commission, which contracted one of the top forensic ballistics experts in the world, Phillip Boyce, to conduct the training at the Price Barracks compound in Ladyville Village. Boyce said that his services in Belize will include “training, the development of standard operating procedures and an assessment of capabilities at the forensic department with recommendation for future requirements”. Before the opening of the training course for law enforcement officials, an introductory seminar was held with senior management officials from the Ministry of National Security and the Judiciary. The Chief Justice of Belize, Hon. Kenneth Benjamin, attended along with Justices Lord, Lucas and Gonzalez. William Godnick, Public Security Coordinator for the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace, Disarmament and Development in Latin America and the Caribbean (UNLIREC), said, “The Introductory Executive Seminar is to introduce policy makers responsible for the implementation of IBIS in the legal system to its use and effectiveness.”
The Canadian Minister of State in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Diane Ablonczy, handed over the Integrated Ballistics Identification System to the Minister of National Security, Hon. John Saldivar, on October 12th, 2012. The system is worth over two million dollars and is capable of taking two and three dimensional images of expended bullet shells that are retrieved from crime scenes. These are then stored in a database and can be quickly and precisely compared to others, which have been previously collected and stored. Cross referencing of this type of forensic information gives law enforcement personnel a better capacity to identify and link guns used in crimes.
The training course will be held from March 18th to March 22nd. Belizeans have also traveled to Canada and Mexico to receive training for the use of IBIS. Henderson said the Forensic Department is currently working on the national ballistics database.