This week, facilitators from the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace, Disarmament and Development in Latin America and the Caribbean (UNLIREC) are in Belize giving ballistic training to forensic technicians, forensic scientists and other specialized personnel.
Members of the Belize Defense Force, Customs and Excise Department, and the Belize National Forensic Science Service attended the opening ceremony that was held at the Radisson Hotel on Monday.
The Chief Justice and three Judges of the Supreme Court also attended. They were gathered to give an overview of the scope of the training and the implications it can have, particularly with strengthening prosecution cases and securing convictions for offences involving guns. fi
Phillip Boyce, ballistic consultant with UNLIREC, and one of the facilitators for the training, explained that he has outlined 14 Standard Operating Procedures to be discussed during the training.
Boyce explained that the course would cover topics such as identification of firearms, identification of ammunition, crime scene processing, report writing, the use of the Integrated Ballistics Identification System (IBIS), and giving evidence in court.
CEO in the Ministry of National Security, Colonel George Lovell, underscored the need for forensic evidence in a time when increasingly witnesses are refusing to testify , causing cases to collapse. Lovell told the Reporter that he is optimistic that once the value of ballistic evidence comes into play to help with convictions, it will encourage witnesses to come forward and work with prosecutors.
Director of the National Forensic Service, Mr/ David Henderson said that the service is currently compiling its database, and that an important part of that process is to get all licensed gun owners on board.
Henderson emphasized the importance of the training and the need for the executive, the legislative and the judiciary branches as well as all law enforcement departments to work together in this type of crime reduction effort.
The IBIS TRAX 3D being used is the most advanced machine in ballistic identification. The Canadian government donated an IBIS system to Belize in October last year. Technicians use forensic imaging technology to enter bullet and casing evidence into this IBIS. TRAX.
New images are correlated against data, and technicians are alerted to possible matches. At that point, a firearms examiner uses a comparison microscope to perform a manual examination.