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Mar 18, 2013

Matching ballistics information in criminal investigations

A one week training course on forensic violence got underway today in Belize City. Participating are forensic technicians and scientists as well as the judiciary and other specialized personnel. The course is being organized through the Ministry of National Security and is focusing on ways to curve the illicit trafficking of small arms and reducing arm violence.


Isani Cayetano, Reporting

The introduction of IBIS, Integrated Ballistics Identification System, to Belize in October of last year, promised a new means for the National Forensic Science Service to solve gun-related crimes.  The equipment, which was donated by the Canadian government, is state-of-the-art and was developed to speed up the laborious process of matching ballistics information in criminal investigations.  Training, facilitated by technical specialists from the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace, Disarmament and Development in Latin America and the Caribbean (UNLIREC), is being made available locally.


William Godnick

William Godnick, Public Security Program Coordinator, UNLIREC

“We have, upon request from the Government of Belize and with the support of the British High Commission, developed a forensic ballistics training course which is designed to support the implementation of the Integrated Ballistics Information System acquired by Belize over the course of the past year.  So this will include training, the development of standard operating procedures and it will also include a private assessment of capabilities and future requirements.”


While the five-day workshop is primarily geared towards a solution to firearm-related offenses, in attendance at the Radisson this morning were a host of officials from the executive, legislative and judiciary.  Godnick explains the correlation.


William Godnick

“The executive branch, through the National Forensics Science Service and through the Police Department, are directly responsible for implementing the operations and intervene against crime and then take all the samples, the ballistics and take them to the court.  Obviously the judicial system is the primary client of the use of these materials so it’s important that all stakeholders be engaged, even those that aren’t directly implementing but who manage the results of such a system.”


Its usage and efficiencies, according to the instructors, go beyond the physical equipment.


William Godnick

“In ballistics tools are important but they’re only one element of a broader strategy which requires a whole range of issues related to prevention and interdiction and that not only are the police responsible but a whole host of agencies ranging from customs, immigration and a range of other institutions that would be focused on combating illicit arms trafficking and firearms violence but also in preventing them in the first place.”


Upon receipt of the donation, Minister of National Security John Saldivar announced that a database will be established through partnership with the government of Barbados as a cost-cutting measure for the sharing of a server. Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.

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3 Responses for “Matching ballistics information in criminal investigations”

  1. Gimme Some Truth says:

    any news on the McAfee gun ballistics?
    Extradition treaty between US and BZ.
    Make the case, reel him back for trial.

    Or is this another show game, just smoke, no fire, no case?

  2. Al says:

    I am grateful for the training, but the application of what is learned is what will tell the tale. In Belize every thing lasts only for a short while and everyone reverts back to the lazy I don’t care way, and slap things together instead of doing things the proper way and getting the best results. Please make this training work so we can get the proper convictions based on evidence.

  3. Al says:

    Al, a lot of us share your cynicism based on sad experience, but I am optimistic that Compol Whylie wants to run a better department, and hopefully he will succeed.

    Here’s a suggestion for maximizing the effectiveness of the ballistics lab: require that everyone gun SOLD, every gun LICENSED, and every gun FOUND, CONFISCATED, or RECOVERED in the Jewel be test-fired by the lab. That way if a gun is used in the future in a crime, its ballistics information will already be in the system, and police should be able to investigate a lot faster.

    Also, if there expended shells or casings already in evidence from cases before we had a ballistics lab, those should be analyzed, too, so they will be already in the database in case a matching weapon turns up day.

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