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Encouraging use of science and technology to combat crime – Jamaica Observer

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In 2008, this newspaper reported on the burgeoning push by the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) in the area of forensic evidence gathering.
At the time, members of the Major Investigation Taskforce (MIT) were among 58 cops who had graduated from an intensive Forensic Crime Scene Investigators course conducted over nine months the previous year.
Our report had highlighted the MIT’s use of forensic evidence to apprehend a man who had killed another and buried him along the Palisadoes Road in Kingston. The killer, faced with the sure evidence of his crime, confessed and was convicted.
That training course was conducted by Mr Hayden Baldwin, an international crime scene expert and consultant based in Chicago, who holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Justice Management from LaSalle University and is a retired master sergeant with the Illinois State Police, which he served for 29 years.
The then MIT head, Assistant Commissioner of Police Mr Les Green, had told us that the next phase of the training would involve cops who would be mentored by those already trained, as at the time, the constabulary had 79 scene of crime officers across the island, and what was needed was “three times that number”.
The training programme had its genesis in Mr Green’s realisation that the JCF needed heavy focus on forensic investigations to improve its service delivery.
“This forensic approach has to be the bedrock of any investigation,” he told the Jamaica Observer as he pointed out that the JCF had spent at least US$600,000 the previous year on equipment such as drying cabinets, used for the drying and storing of forensic evidence; fuming chambers, which develop latent prints from objects; light sources, used for locating shoe prints, fibres and particulate evidence; digital colour photography and chemicals used in the gathering of evidence.
Fast-forward to 2023 and what we are seeing from the police force is greater application of forensic investigation leading to swift arrest of suspects and successful prosecutions in the courts.
It is obvious that heavy investment has been made in the equipment and technologies that help improve police investigations. That much was obvious at the four-day inaugural police expo held at the National Arena in St Andrew in May this year.
The expo gave the public examples of how the JCF’s quality management systems and technology were revolutionising policing in Jamaica. We recall how the expo impressed people who took the time to visit. Indeed, one patron told us that he had no idea how well-equipped the police were. “I’ll rest comfortably knowing that the JCF have some technology in their possession that they can utilise to fight crime and make this country safe for for us,” he said.
We were especially encouraged by the revelation of Corporal Fitzroy Pryce from the Information, Communications and Technology Division that most of the technologies on show at the expo were developed within the JCF. Kudos to them.
We expect that the JCF is already making more use of those talents to enhance the work of the Institute of Forensic Science and Legal Medicine which is playing a significant role in improving national security.
Everyone involved in these positive developments should be congratulated.
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