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New microscopes to make gun-crime probes easier

Published:Monday | September 15, 2014 | 12:00 AM

Sheldon Williams, Staff Reporter

The investigation of gun crimes is expected to be fired up with a faster turnaround time with the arrival of two new ballistics comparison microscopes and DNA kits at the government's forensic laboratory.

Dr Judith Mowatt, head of the Forensic Services of Jamaica, said the machines that were donated by the United States Embassy in Kingston will aid in the faster completion of ballistics investigations and the preparation of forensic certificates.

"We are coming from a situation where we had two second-hand microscopes in use, to today where we have four of the best microscopes on the market available for the analysis and examination of ballistics evidence," Mowatt said last week.

increase productivity

Dr Mowatt also said the creation of software by a staff member to complement the operation of the machines will increase productivity.

"Ballistics has gone even further and a member of staff of this unit has developed an innovative software that will allow the ballistic data to be converted to forensic intelligence and can be readily accessed and used by investigators," she said.

Deputy Superintendent Dave Brown said the machines will be used to compare a reference sample with exhibits.

"If we get an unknown piece of reference out there, a bullet or a cartridge case, then what that does is if we recover a weapon from an individual, we will test fire that weapon and we will use that reference sample and compare it against the unknown that comes from the scene," he explained.

Meanwhile, National Security Minister Peter Bunting noted that the two new arrivals move the laboratory's rating closer to the suggested standard determined by the public defender's interim report on the 2010 Tivoli Gardens security operations.

"The report suggested that another four fully functional comparison microscopes were needed to enable the FSL to function at an optimal level. We are grateful that the US embassy has supplied two of these microscopes, relieving the Government of a necessary, but sizable expense given our tight fiscal space at this time," Bunting said.