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FBI completes three-day post-blast course in Ja

Published:Tuesday | February 16, 2016 | 2:00 AMJason Cross
Luis G. Moreno (left), United States ambassador to Jamaica, and Joshua Polacheck, counselor for public affairs in the US Embassy, look on during a post-blast investigation course jointly funded by the US State Department and United Nations at the Green Bay Firing Range in Portmore, St Catherine, on February 4.
Pieces of debris left back from one of the explosions.
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United States Ambassador to Jamaica Luis G. Moreno recently indicated that despite not having any major terrorist activities in Jamaica and the Caribbean, the region still needs to be adequately prepared to respond to and properly investigate any such cases.

Moreno was speaking at the culmination of a three-day post-blast investigation course offered to various national security agencies at the Green Bay Firing Range in Portmore, St Catherine, earlier this month.

"This is the type of thing that gives people experience to investigate a big blast," said Moreno.

"The experience gained by the JCF (Jamaica Constabulary Force) and JDF (Jamaica Defence Force) personnel, explained by the guys who are the biggest experts in this type of stuff, it's absolutely invaluable."

He added: "In all seriousness, this is very important because as I said, the world is a dangerous place. We've been fortunate in Jamaica and the Caribbean, in general. We haven't had a major terrorist-type event, but that does not mean that we shouldn't always be prepared, and we have to be prepared for the worst and expect and pray for the best," he said.

The post-blast course, funded by the US Department of State, was jointly executed by the US Federal Bureau of Investigations and the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace, Disarmament and Development in Latin America and the Caribbean.

A number of national agencies participated, including the JDF, the JCF, the Ministry of National Security, the Institute of Forensic Science and Legal Medicine and the Jamaica Customs Agency.

The main idea behind the course was to ensure that in the event that explosives are detonated in Jamaica by criminal elements, or otherwise, the various national security establishments would have training, which would enable them to conduct forensic investigations and identify the perpetrators.

EXPLOSIVE DEMO

Members of the security forces witnessed the explosive demolition of an armoured Cadillac sedan with a 50lb bomb, setting the groundwork for a criminal or terrorist investigation.

John Bates, of the FBI's weapons of mass destruction unit, while making a post-assessment of the explosion site, encouraged security personnel to begin broadening their investigative scope and to always think outside of the box when searching for evidence.

Joshua Polacheck, US counsellor for public affairs, said that the training was part of a long-standing partnership with the US government, the United Nations, and countries in the Caribbean, especially Jamaica.

"We wanted to focus on Jamaicans because of the quality of officers in the security services such that they'd be able to respond domestically and potentially regionally as well. They've done both classroom work and smaller explosions. But this event presented an opportunity to see not just the small, controlled explosion, but what a real crime scene would look like," Polacheck said.

Lincoln Allen of the Ministry of National Security welcomed the training and outlined the ministry's role in the initiative.

"We have a clear security obligation to ensure that the agencies of the ministry that are responsible for the security of the nation are properly sensitised, they are properly aware, and that they are technically competent to support Jamaica's obligation under its Security Council resolution. Our role is primarily to ensure that legislation is in place and to ensure that enforcement is in place," Allen said.

The FBI, since 1998, has conducted 100 post-blast classes internationally.