The investigative capabilities of the Police Force have been strengthened with the expansion of the Institute of Forensic Science and Legal Medicine, in Kingston.

A two-storey annex has been built at the Institute at a cost of $300 million. It boasts closed-circuit televisions (CCTVs), a training/conference room, library, access control, and fire suppression, among other key features.  It will also house the national DNA Database.

Following a tour of the building on November 27, Minister of National Security, Hon. Dr. Horace Chang, said by providing the police with this cutting-edge facility, which has been outfitted with top-of-the-line equipment, “we are, in fact, taking Jamaica’s policing into the 21st century”.

“We want to ensure that the men and women of the Jamaica Constabulary Force are adequately resourced to tackle the criminals and investigate the crimes of today and beyond,” he said.

Dr. Chang noted that expansion of the Institute’s capabilities will enable it to meet the requirements for international accreditation, thereby putting their commendable work “above reproach”.

“We are on our way to building the best equipped and most efficient forensic institute in the Caribbean. We are ensuring that our criminal investigative and prosecutorial capabilities are at their best as we work to overhaul the criminal justice system,” he said.

The Minister advised that the first floor of the new structure is now occupied, while the ground floor will be commissioned into use by January 2020.

Dr. Chang said that the establishment of a Western Jamaica Forensic facility is being explored.

“The work of building out of the Institute… ranks highly among the strategic priority areas that we have embarked on, in order to retool and adequately re-equip the JCF,” he said.

Meanwhile, Dr. Chang informed that work to establish the DNA database is well advanced, adding that the database rooms are now furnished and they are awaiting the delivery of hardware and installation of software.

He pointed out that the Government is investing in forensic science because it is a proven way of not only building the JCF’s capacity but also putting them “ahead of the game in today’s world”.

“The application of science to criminal investigations will strengthen the ability of the police to examine evidence, establish trends, and investigate relationships between crimes, and have a more fulsome understanding of criminal behaviour,” he added.

Dr. Chang said the tender process to award contract for the construction of the Autopsy Suite is also well under way, and that training of civilian ballistic experts began this year.

 “This is a first in our nation’s history. We are moving the Jamaica Constabulary Force into the 21st century by creating a new culture and a new way of policing – a culture that relies on objective, irrefutable science to substantiate claims and corroborate allegations,” he said.

The Institute of Forensic Science and Legal Medicine is the chief testing lab for the Government of Jamaica.

 In 2014, the Forensic Science Laboratory (FSL) and the Legal Medicine Unit (LMU) were merged to form the Institute of Forensic Science and Legal Medicine.  The Institute has the responsibility of conducting scientific forensic examinations and analyses on all forms of evidence submitted by the police and other agencies as well as doing postmortems in cases of violent, sudden or suspicious deaths