THE INDEPENDENT Commission of Investigations (INDECOM) is one step closer to swiftly investigating fatal police shootings through the procurement of a comparison microscope, engaging a ballistics expert and retrofitting an in-house laboratory at a cost of approximately $50 million.
This support is a fraction of the £1.5 million which will be disbursed to the commission over the next three years by the UK Department for International Development (DFID).
Speaking on Wednesday during the unveiling of the equipment, Terrence Williams, commissioner of INDECOM, said the procurement of the comparison microscope and the opening of the laboratory are significant steps in the life of INDECOM.
"This will increase our ability to close cases in a timely manner. This, to an extent, will assist us in meeting our self-imposed 60-day target," Williams said.
A comparison microscope is a piece of equipment used in forensic sciences to compare microscopic patterns and identify or deny their common origin.
"We noticed that, when we started INDECOM, many cases were being delayed for years, because you could not speedily get the results of ballistic testing," Williams said.
"There were not enough microscopes and experts to examine the evidence. We, therefore, were happy that we got the support to have a microscope which we can dedicate to these cases, and to have this expert engaged who can concentrate on the backlog created over the years," he added.
Williams also thanked representatives of the DFID for their support, which he said is a demonstration of their unwavering commitment to development through security, justice and accountability.
"We are delighted to be supporting the work that INDECOM does in such a tangible way, to tackle the serious crime issues and bring around a culture shift in the JCF (Jamaica Constabulary Force) that is geared around accountability," Howard Drake, the British high commissioner said.
The commission has also engaged ballistics expert Matthew Noedel, who is currently training 12 of its forensic staff and selected investigators in forensics examination.
"The target is that, within the first two years, the trained staff should be able to get certified in the area of crime scene reconstruction and, within three to four years, more of them should get certified with the AFTE, which is the firearm and tool mark certification. That is our target," Williams said.