Jamaica's effort at solving crime and reducing the number of unsolved cases has been boosted with the donation of equipment valued at US$250,000 by the United States (US), to the Jamaica Constabulary Force's (JCF) Forensic Science Laboratory.
This was disclosed by Minister of National Security, Hon. Peter Bunting, during a tour of the facility located at 2½ Hope Boulevard, in Kingston, on January 19.
Mr. Bunting reported that over the last 18 months, the laboratory has been the beneficiary of well needed equipment and training by the Government of the US, which has brought about an improvement in the ballistics capability of the facility.
The Minister applauded the effort of the US Government and expressed his deep appreciation to US Ambassador to Jamaica, Pamela Bridgewater, who also participated in the tour.
“The donation has significantly boosted the lab’s capability to deliver services to law enforcement agencies, particularly in the area of ballistic investigations. The long tradition of collaboration and co-operation between the United States and Jamaica has served our mutual interests well and I feel certain we will continue to work together to ensure the safety and security of both nations,” he said.
For her part, Ambassador Bridgewater said the assistance formed part of President Barrack Obama’s Caribbean Security Basin Initiative, which aims to improve security in the region.
“We’re just delighted that the comparison microscope that you need desperately, is on the way. You have four microscopes that are very sophisticated. We’ve been able to spend about J$18 million to provide the equipment and that is not the end; there is more to come,” she said.
Mrs. Bridgewater pointed out that the US Government is committed to spending a further $20 million to boost the JCF’s crime scene investigation capabilities in other areas of the island.
Citing the challenges faced by the forensic lab, Minister Bunting said there are far more cases now than when it was originally built, due to the increase in crime. He said there is financial constraint, but a serious look will have to be taken to allocate resources to facilitate a greater delivery of intelligence driven services.
“We want to be able to solve crimes as quickly as possible, so that we can get the appropriate convictions through the justice system,” he said.
Head of the laboratory, Dr. Judith Mowatt, noted that when they occupied the building in 1990, one department, for example, received 600 cases. Now that same department has to deal with over 4,000 cases and almost 20,000 exhibits.
“We have a space issue, in addition to staffing, and we’re seeking to address that. Hopefully, by the end of 2012 that issue will be addressed permanently,” she said.
By O. Rodger Hutchinson, JIS PRO