|Police advancing plans for local forensics lab|
Royston Jones Jr
Guardian Staff Reporter
Published: Nov 15, 2011
The first set of drawings for a forensic and DNA lab in The Bahamas will be completed by November 25, according to Deputy Commissioner of Police Quinn McCartney, a forensics expert.
McCartney confirmed yesterday that Fairfax Identity Laboratories (FIL) will consult the Royal Bahamas Police Force (RBPF) on the DNA facility to ensure that it meets international standards.
He added that the facility will be housed in a building known as the Ranfurly Houses, which is located in the southern section of Police Headquarters on East Street.
“We intend to refurbish that and perhaps expand if necessary to accommodate a DNA facility,” said McCartney on the sidelines of a tourism security training workshop held at Police Headquarters.
“We are not going to do this in isolation. We will also provide adequate facilities for our information technology department and other areas of the forensic science section.”
FIL is a full service forensic laboratory based in Richmond, Virginia, which provides confidential forensic analysis internationally.
McCartney noted that FIL will also consult the RBPF in a number of key areas that will assist in developing DNA databases, which would be the first for The Bahamas.
“They are also helping us with case work,” he noted. “We had previously engaged a facility in South Florida that provided DNA profiling for us. We have already sent a few cases over to [FIL] for analysis and we have already gotten the results back. We are pleased with what we’re seeing so far.”
DNA Labs International in Florida took between one and two months’ turnaround time for DNA results, McCartney said recently. He said yesterday that that service on average, not including transportation expenses, came at a cost of approximately $50,000 annually.
In addition to further forensic science training and acquiring consults on the refurbishment and expansion of a DNA facility, McCartney pointed out that DNA legislation would be a crucial part of the overall project.
“There are a lot of technical aspects [to DNA profiling], such as confidentiality that people are concerned about,” McCartney said. “Countries have enacted legislation to make sure that the information is properly safeguarded.
“We want to make sure that the public is aware that if a DNA sample is provided it is not used for any other [thing] than its intended purpose. For example, if it is a DNA profile from a crime scene, it can’t be used for paternity testing to say who the father of a particular child is.”
McCartney pointed out that crime scene officers collect all potential DNA evidence from crime scenes. He added that once the DNA facility is established, the process of creating a crime scene DNA database would commence starting with current cases with the intention of working back through previous years.
“Our intention is to analyze every piece of evidence and create a DNA profile from every piece of evidence,” McCartney said. “It is a mammoth task, but I think it is something that we have to do.
“I am sure we will find that there are probably suspects in multiple cases and we can bring closure to a lot of our cases that are outstanding.”
McCartney said the DNA facility is expected to be completed in late 2012 to early 2013.