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Story Highlights

  • The analytical capability of the State-run Institute of Forensic Science and Legal Medicine has been boosted with the acquisition of a scanning electron microscope (SEM) valued at approximately $42.3 million (US$328,000).
  • The state-of-the-art equipment enables the laboratory to better analyse trace evidence such as gunshot residue, paint and glass fragments, among other elements, which are collected by the police from crime scenes.
  • Senator Charles, who welcomed the provision, said it would greatly assist in strengthening the accuracy of investigations by the police and other law-enforcement agencies. It will also provide stronger and more substantive empirical evidence for successful prosecution.

The analytical capability of the State-run Institute of Forensic Science and Legal Medicine has been boosted with the acquisition of a scanning electron microscope (SEM) valued at approximately $42.3 million (US$328,000).

The state-of-the-art equipment enables the laboratory to better analyse trace evidence such as gunshot residue, paint and glass fragments, among other elements, which are collected by the police from crime scenes.

It was provided by the United States (US) Bureau of International Narcotics and law Enforcement Affairs, with support from the US Embassy in Jamaica.

The SEM was formally presented to State Minister for National Security, Senator the Hon. Pearnel Charles Jr., by US Ambassador to Jamaica, His Excellency Luis Moreno, during a handover ceremony at the Institute on Hope Boulevard, St. Andrew, on Wednesday, November 2.

Senator Charles, who welcomed the provision, said it would greatly assist in strengthening the accuracy of investigations by the police and other law-enforcement agencies.
It will also provide stronger and more substantive empirical evidence for successful prosecution.

While acknowledging that the SEM’s acquisition would not solve all of Jamaica’s crime challenges, Senator Charles said it represents a significant step in the right direction in “strengthening the links in the chain towards achieving justice”.

Ambassador Moreno, for his part, said the provision of the equipment represents a long-term investment in Jamaica’s crime-fighting capability.

“This is part of our ongoing efforts to work with the security forces. We are very much committed to this partnership we have in Jamaica, and solving these issues that we have in criminality (as they) affect both our countries,” Ambassador Moreno said, while reaffirming the Embassy’s ongoing support.

The Institute’s Executive Director, Dr. Judith Mowatt, also welcomed the equipment, noting that accurate, modern and reliable tools are pivotal to the entity being able to fulfil its mandate.

She said the Institute is required to examine and analyse physical evidence and scenes of crime, in order to provide answers for investigators and the courts through reports and testimony.

Dr. Mowatt pointed out that in so doing, “we can produce links that will assist in the conviction of the guilty as well as the exoneration of suspects that are truly innocent”.

She further said that in its quest to become a first-class forensics facility and a centre of excellence in the Caribbean, the Institute “must keep pace with current technology and endeavour to upgrade and improve our instrumentation”.

Dr. Mowatt told JIS News that protocols for the use of the SEM are being developed for dissemination to stakeholder agencies, such as the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) and the Independent Commission of Investigations (INDECOM).

She informed that a senior forensics officer attached to the Institute’s Chemistry Division will be travelling to the United States shortly for additional training in the equipment’s use ahead of its full implementation.