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Oct 12, 2012

Police Department goes “ballistic” with equipment from Canada

The Canadian government has stepped up to the plate to assist the jewel to solve crime, specifically gun violence, which is presenting a huge challenge to law enforcement. A sophisticated piece of equipment, worth in the range of two million dollars was handed over to the Ministry of National Security today. It is called IBIS, and it will be used to expedite ballistic matches taken from crime scenes as soon as training can be provided for technicians. News Five’s Isani Cayetano was on hand for the presentation at the National Forensic Science Service.


Isani Cayetano, Reporting

The introduction of an Integrated Ballistics Identification System, IBIS, a welcome addition to the existing resources of the National Forensic Science Service, is long overdue.  IBIS was developed to expedite the highly physical and slow process of matching ballistics information in police investigations.  In Belize City particularly, where a majority of the crimes committed involve the use of firearms, IBIS is much needed.


George Lovell

Ret. Col. George Lovell, C.E.O., Ministry of National Security

“This equipment will help us tremendously to develop that capacity that is needed, the capacity that people from the Solidarity Movement for Justice and Peace in Cayo and the people in Cayo are asking for.  I see two elements that we certainly need to strengthen, as far as forensics is concerned, for us to have a laboratory that we can be proud of, that will give us the type of results that we need moving forward.  The first one is the Integrated Ballistic Identification System.”


Aside from comparing evidence from an ongoing or current investigation, the system can also be used to connect ballistic information to prior investigations and to guns used in crimes, particularly those that have been used in the commission of multiple shootings but that may not have been recovered during the investigation.


John Saldivar

John Saldivar, Minister of National Security

“Canada donated this Integrated Ballistic Identification System which is valued at over two million dollars, which is said to be the most advanced ballistic imaging solution in the world today.  This will now significantly increase the ability of our law enforcement agencies to make ballistic matches across crime scenes and jurisdictions.  We are hoping that in a very short time this equipment will assist in our investigating efforts of numerous crimes involving guns and the arrests of gun crimes offenders.”


To understand the purpose of IBIS, one needs to become familiar with the use of firearms.  Every weapon leaves unique identifying characteristics on the bullet and the cartridge during the firing process.  These marks are known as striae.  These microscopic features are similar to fingerprints.  Just as no two sets of fingerprints are identical, no two firearms are the same.  For instance, two matching nine millimeter handguns will not produce identical striations on the bullet and casing.  Therefore, the ballistic information gathered from these two pistols can be used to establish which weapon was used in a crime and, if possible, link it to the shooter.


While we are in possession of this state-of-the-art equipment the question now is whether there are trained personnel that can use it effectively.


Ret. Col. George Lovell

“The immediate answer is no.  We have sent some people out to do some training but it will take us some time for us to build this capacity.”


Once trained, a catalog containing all information gathered from ballistic analyses will also need to be established, since IBIS is able to search through volumes of existing images and prior evidence from crime scenes before suggesting a small number of spent shells as potential matches.


John Saldivar

“Belize is partnering with a similar project being executed in Barbados.  Barbados has agreed to share a server with Belize and Belize has agreed to meet the cost of maintenance of the server jointly with the Barbados government.”


Ret. Col. George Lovell

“Having been trained, there are a number of other things that you will have to do.  There is a database that we will have to populate.  We have a server that we will be sharing with Barbados, that will be our backup server to the server that we will have here in Belize and we’ll be paying quite a handsome amount of money for the maintenance of that particular server.”


The equipment, along with an award, was handed over this morning to the National Forensic Science Service by a delegation of government officials from Canada, including Minister of State in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Diane Ablonczy. Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.


For years, government has been looking to source a forensic lab for DNA testing. 

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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18 Responses for “Police Department goes “ballistic” with equipment from Canada”

  1. beachman says:

    Is this IBIS donation from Canada what PM Barrow was referring to in his speech of Sept 2011, or was he talking about something else? If it was something else, where is it?

  2. Amircito says:

    I hope that it is in the best interest of the people that these people will be trained to use this machine and generate results instead of using the opportunity to cover up the bad deeds of these curropted officials in government. I hope and pray that these people use due care and attention to this equipment. Furthermore I hope that the monies being used to maintain this server in Barbados is used efficiently and not being pocketed by politicians of family of these high end people.

  3. Eye in the Sky says:

    A waste of money those Cruffy Belize Police will break it within months.

    What Canada should do is take over the Belize Police Force.

    It is well known that the R.C.M.P. (Royal Canadian Mounted Police) always catch the criminal even if it takes years.

  4. Ricky Malthus says:

    This is an excellent piece of equipment which will help incalculably to solve crimes . Regretably, it had to be relinquished to an a@@hole like the bombastic Saldivar.

  5. it's just that simple says:

    How long is that going to last before it gets stolen? Its copper has got to be worth $2000.
    Keep it safe in the armory, there is plenty of room in there now.

    Ever catch those criminals that stole & destroyed the diagnostic clinic?
    Having produced $500k damage, they must have got $1000 worth of copper.

  6. Rod says:

    How can we have such a pair of incompetent people in these positions national security this man Lovell should be in jail for incompetence and treason why is no one in jail for treason saldivar is another incompetent boob under his portfolio everything is down in the drain both of them talk a lot but know nothing now the prime minister can find time to go to Jamaica but cannot find time to go to cayo to talk to the people their when their sons and daughters are being raped and murdered on a daily basis this just shows the true colors of barrow that he is prejudice against Spanish people look at the facts he does not have time to come talk to people in cayo why because they are mostly Spanish people but he has time to talk to Jamaicans all the way in Jamaica why because they are all black if you don’t see the prejudice in this then you need to wake up.

  7. Storm says:

    Thanks to the Canadians for this. It’s a step in the right direction. Someone in GOB needs to get trained to use it, and thenit needs to be used and maintained.

    We already have an armorer who is supposed to do firearm and ballistic analysis, but case after case has been dismissed because he refuses to go to court. I’d fire him yesterday if I were King. I assume he accepts bribes to disappear so armed gangsters can get out of jail; his pattern is too consistent to deny.

  8. Bear says:

    It seems to me it would be sensible to have a law that before any firearm is sold or registered in Belize, a sample round fired from it will be scanned by the ballistic lab. That way, if the gun is ever used in a future crime where a bullet is recovered, it should be a simple matter to identify who owns the gun involved.

    There’s a free crime-fighting idea for our Minister of National Security or any member of the Assembly who cares about protecting us and solving crimes.

  9. Mike Green says:

    Lets just hope that they don’t screw it up like they do with so much of the equipment and assets that are donated by the U.S. & Canada. How many of the new trucks have they already crashed? I hate to be a pessimist but I have seen them destroy or misuse so many of the donations over the years. Maybe they’ll get it right this time.

  10. Belizean Pride says:

    hope they can use it later cause a lot of valuable info has been wasted and criminals have walk free for such a long time. now it rests on the ballistic crew, police dep. to collect good evidence and the c.i.b to collaborate for better services to curb the crime.

  11. Prime Minister 2025 says:

    You guys should be more supportive of the government and the great advancement that’s taking place.

  12. Prime Minister 2025 says:

    You guys should be more supportive of the government and embrace great advancement that’s taking place with the introduction of this new technology. Cruffy days are over. Its time to step up to the world stage.

  13. TW says:

    A step in the right direction.My only concern is Will it make a difference?Hopefully somewhat.The problem is not so much that the police is not arresting some of these criminals.The problem is that most of the attorneys in Belize that defend these criminals are way smarter that the ones that the Government has to prosecute these maggots of our society.But i do hope it will help.

  14. thetruthaboutforensics says:

    The Ministry is trying to quench the thirst of the Belizean people for more forensics by flashing this 2 million dollar Integrated Ballistics Identification System around. I applaud Canada for being so generous, however, there is NO WAY that Belize is going to get this to work in the next 3 years. IBIS is a basically a comparison tool as well as a library for fired bullets and casings. You first have to take pictures of the spent bullets/cartridge casings to capture the striation marks and indentations – a difficult task in itself when it comes to the lighting and angle and distance from the camera. THEN you actually have to have something to match it to – this involves finding the weapon, firing ammunition with the same characteristics as the crime scene sample, then taking the picture of the spent bullet/cartridge casing under the same lighting/angle/distance and HAVING SOMEONE SIT THERE AND MAKE A VISUAL COMPARISON AND SAY ‘YES’ OR ‘NO’ FOR A MATCH. This isn’t just one press of a button and it’s done. I think maybe the Ministry has been watching too much CSI shows. So, in addition to IBIS, you have to have a good water tank for effective recovery of the fired bullet (without addiitonal marks and striations caused by it hitting something else after expulsion), you have to have a massive collection of ammunition for test fires (I can see someone dipping their hands in this one) and you have to have someone EXTENSIVELY trained in making comparisons (most firearms technicians train in the US for at least 2 years before they ever work a case). After a library of bullets/guns have been entered in the system, it is able to return about 10 ‘close matches’, however, someone still has to sit there and make a comparison which can take days to go through one case. And still, one person may say it is a match and another person may say it isn’t – sadly, bullet/casing comparisons are more subjective than they are objective. So what is happening with the DNA lab?? Are they ever going to address that issue and actually say what is going on there? EVERYTHING that has been said so far has been very vague.

  15. thetruthaboutforensics says:

    Lovell says – “We have a server that we will be sharing with Barbados, that will be our backup server to the server that we will have here in Belize and we’ll be paying quite a handsome amount of money for the maintenance of that particular server.”

    Well, sir, if you don’t need the backup server now (and I doubt in the next 2 years) please don’t pay the handsome amount of money for it. There are so many other things you could be doing with that money.

  16. Alfonso Ozaeta Sr says:

    Fellow Belizeans, what appears to be a donation of valuable and potentially very helpful, state of the art equipment by the Canadians would also seem to be the result of positive thinking on someone’s part. What do you think is more likely to get us from where we would rather not be to the place we would prefer to be, negative thinking or positive thinking? In spite of past failures and existing shortcomings, let us exercise and cultivate the kind of thinking that is more likely to result in genuine progress in our jewel of Belize!

  17. Hardworking Bzean says:

    How can Bzeans. be supportive of the Gov’t when we all see how our Police force has total disregard for all and any equipment they lay hands on & the Minister does not do anything about it!! If they would have any pride or interest in trying to alleviate the crime and getting rid of all those no good criminals on the streets they would place more interest in that area! Simple example those …….. harming our innocent young belizean girls and getting off without real punishment….that is pure bulls*%$!! Capital punishment needs to be reinstated!! Its already in our constitution, no need to pass a new bill PM….JUST SAY THE WORD!!

  18. Dr. J. P. Gilligan says:

    I find this discussion fruitless. Is this the ballistics fingerprinting set-up Canada implimented, which was estimated to cost about $2 million Canadian, but ended up costing many times that amount, but as far as I know was not helpful in solving a single crime?! So, now they give it to the good people of Belize?!

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