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Jul 26, 2017

C.S.I. Belize: Equipment and Wheels for Scenes of Crime, Forensic Service

Over a million and a half Belize dollars in forensic equipment was handed over to the Ministry of Home Affairs today. The donation, gifted by the US Embassy, is to assist the National Forensic Science Services in its work to properly analyze evidence handed over by the Scenes of Crime Unit. As a part of the donation, the agency received brand new mobile units that will help them to move easily from crime scenes to base. Andrea Polanco was in Ladyville today; she tells us more about the items that were handed over and how they will be used.

 

Andrea Polanco, Reporting

These nine, spanking new Ford F-150 customized pick-up trucks fitted with crime scene investigation kits will be used to help local authorities in processing crime scenes. The trucks will get personnel to the scene of crime quicker- and the equipment it comes with help to gather, analyze and preserve evidence. These mobile units, valued at around four-hundred and fifty thousand U.S. dollars, will strengthen the work of the Scenes of Crime Unit.

 

Lloyd Roches

Lloyd Roches, Head, Scene of Crime Unit

“It is very important for us. We can now rely on ourselves for any transportation from the office to any crime scene countrywide.”

 

Andrea Polanco

“How does that help with the work on the ground?”

 

Lloyd Roches

“Well, it will make our work very easier because now we have all our equipment in the vehicle and we don’t need to be going back and forth from office crime scene and from crime scene to office. So, we have all our equipment; cameras, mass destruction kit, generators, lights now that we can search at night more better; we have x-ray machine now that we can go to the morgue and it will be easier for us to find the slugs in the victims’ body or so.”

 

Andrea Polanco

“Do we have personnel who are trained to operate these different pieces of equipment?”

 

Lloyd Roches

“Yes. We do have persons that are trained. We had an advisor here about two years ago, Mister Hayden Baldwin who trained us in all the equipment we have and we have twenty nine competent forensic crime scene investigators country-wide to operate these equipment.”

 

Andrea Polanco

“Are some of these pieces the first time your unit will be using; are some of them new to the work that you do?”

 

Lloyd Roches

“Yes. Some of them are new that we will be getting, especially for the mass casualty kits, first time we are getting those kits. We have trained with one before but first time each unit or each office will have one. But let’s say a mass casualty – say an airplane crashed, now we have all the necessary equipment and materials to process that scene.”

 

Often times, cases fall apart because there is a lack of eye witness or an uncooperative witness – but these new specialized high tech pieces of equipment will be used to bridge that gap. They will be used to gather materials to help strengthen the successful prosecution of cases with science based evidence needed.

 

Elodio Aragon Jr.

Elodio Aragon Jr., Minister of State, Home Affairs

“This will no doubt enhance the quality of evidence that the technicians will be expected to bring into the laboratory for analysis. The better quality evidence they are able to retrieve, the more useful the analysis will be to the prosecution case. As we strengthen the forensic department, we will in turn strengthen our cases in court. The days when we are getting witnesses to come forward easily especially for murder, and robbery and major crimes investigation is a challenge today.  And we strengthen the scientific analysis that is being done in our blood section, in areas of finger printing, in terms of how we deal with the collection of evidence. Those will go a long way to bring justice to the victims of crime in this country.”

 

To aid in citizen security and tackle crime, the donation includes a number of pieces of equipment valued at around three hundred, fifty thousand U.S. dollars; from small items like tape to be used on scene to specialized complex pieces to process and preserve samples gathered – including ultra violet lights.

 

Nathan Bland

Nathan Bland, Deputy Chargé d’affaires, US Embassy

“There is all kinds of equipment there, ranging from simple things, like lights and generators to help the staff process scenes of crime at night time; sketch pad to draw a crime scene; there is crime scene tape as you see on TV that they try to cordon off crime scene. But there is also more complex items like ultra violet lights to detect bodily fluids and other substances that are not readily visible to the human eye. There is a laser trajectory kit to help people establish what direction a bullet was fired from. There are sexual assault kits, portable x-ray machine and a drying cabinet which is important for preserving evidence so that blood stains or bodily fluids that are found don’t get mooted over or not admissible later as evidence.”

 

Also in the the trove of equipment are pieces for firearm and ammunition analysis.

 

Elodio Aragon Jr.

“These include serial number restoration kit, a portable bullet recovery system, and weapon cleaning kits, to name a few. The bullet recovery system makes it possible for firearm examiners to test fire firearms from any locations and recover the bullets quickly and not have to test fire into the test-firing room into a bullet catcher and sorting through Kevlar for the bullet. This makes their work more convenient.”

 

The evidence gathered from scenes is taken here to the National Forensic Science Service to be analyzed.  The medical office gets this brand new high tech portable x-ray machine, and the lab unit gets other much needed equipment from this donation.

 

Nathan Bland

“The goal of these donations is to better assist the forensic department to carry out their duties. Hopefully, as they begin to process crime scene it helps to solve more complex cases. Those who wish to commit crimes get more dissuaded as they realize that their chances of being caught and ultimately convicted continues to increase.”

 

The scenes of crime unit in Belize City, Ladyville, orange walk, Corozal, san Ignacio, Belmopan, Dangriga, independence, Punta Gorda will each receive one of the trucks fitted with the crime scene kit. Reporting for News Five, I’m Andrea Polanco.

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