The Canadian government has stepped up to the plate to assist the jewel to solve crime, specifically gun violence, which is presenting a huge challenge to law enforcement. A sophisticated piece of equipment, worth in the range of two million dollars was handed over to the Ministry of National Security today. It is called IBIS, and it will be used to expedite ballistic matches taken from crime scenes as soon as training can be provided for technicians. News Five’s Isani Cayetano was on hand for the presentation at the National Forensic Science Service.
Ret. Col. George Lovell, C.E.O., Ministry of National Security
“This equipment will help us tremendously to develop that capacity that is needed, the capacity that people from the Solidarity Movement for Justice and Peace in Cayo and the people in Cayo are asking for. I see two elements that we certainly need to strengthen, as far as forensics is concerned, for us to have a laboratory that we can be proud of, that will give us the type of results that we need moving forward. The first one is the Integrated Ballistic Identification System.”
Aside from comparing evidence from an ongoing or current investigation, the system can also be used to connect ballistic information to prior investigations and to guns used in crimes, particularly those that have been used in the commission of multiple shootings but that may not have been recovered during the investigation.
John Saldivar, Minister of National Security
“Canada donated this Integrated Ballistic Identification System which is valued at over two million dollars, which is said to be the most advanced ballistic imaging solution in the world today. This will now significantly increase the ability of our law enforcement agencies to make ballistic matches across crime scenes and jurisdictions. We are hoping that in a very short time this equipment will assist in our investigating efforts of numerous crimes involving guns and the arrests of gun crimes offenders.”
To understand the purpose of IBIS, one needs to become familiar with the use of firearms. Every weapon leaves unique identifying characteristics on the bullet and the cartridge during the firing process. These marks are known as striae. These microscopic features are similar to fingerprints. Just as no two sets of fingerprints are identical, no two firearms are the same. For instance, two matching nine millimeter handguns will not produce identical striations on the bullet and casing. Therefore, the ballistic information gathered from these two pistols can be used to establish which weapon was used in a crime and, if possible, link it to the shooter.
While we are in possession of this state-of-the-art equipment the question now is whether there are trained personnel that can use it effectively.
Ret. Col. George Lovell
“The immediate answer is no. We have sent some people out to do some training but it will take us some time for us to build this capacity.”
Once trained, a catalog containing all information gathered from ballistic analyses will also need to be established, since IBIS is able to search through volumes of existing images and prior evidence from crime scenes before suggesting a small number of spent shells as potential matches.
“Belize is partnering with a similar project being executed in Barbados. Barbados has agreed to share a server with Belize and Belize has agreed to meet the cost of maintenance of the server jointly with the Barbados government.”
Ret. Col. George Lovell
“Having been trained, there are a number of other things that you will have to do. There is a database that we will have to populate. We have a server that we will be sharing with Barbados, that will be our backup server to the server that we will have here in Belize and we’ll be paying quite a handsome amount of money for the maintenance of that particular server.”
The equipment, along with an award, was handed over this morning to the National Forensic Science Service by a delegation of government officials from Canada, including Minister of State in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Diane Ablonczy.
Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.