By Maj. William Mott
1st Cavalry Division public affairs
BASRAH, Iraq - The crime lab in Basrah will complete its new equipment installation next month. Not only will it have the most highly trained scientists in Iraq but also the latest state of the art chemical and DNA forensics equipment.
Members of the stability transition team enforcer, Iraqi training and advisory mission, and a certified equipment installer from Lebanon worked for eight consecutive hours at the Basrah crime lab to assemble two gas chromatograph/mass spectrometers in to a working unit, and qualify the instruments to ensure their functionality.
The equipment is the workhorse and heart of any forensic chemistry lab, allowing the technicians there to identify the type of drugs, explosives or other chemical substances on evidence recovered in criminal or terrorist acts.
The technology gives the police a huge advantage in solving crimes and defeating terrorism, said Lt. Col. Gregory Stokes, the commander of the 1st Battalion, 12th Cavalry Regiment Stability Transition Team, 3rd Advise and Assist Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division.
The lab can now set the standard in structure, supplies, equipment, training and personnel. Their technicians are highly committed, trained and requested throughout Iraq for their expertise.
The lab is a success due to years of U.S. and Iraqi planning, and the millions of dollars that have been committed to its refurbishment and equipment.
However, before the scissors cut the ribbon, there are a few construction and equipment details to complete.
The crime lab construction has made timely progress, and will be complete in September. Once construction is complete and equipment installed, the lab will receive an annual stock list to ensure it has all the required supplies for full operations.
One high priority piece of equipment left to purchase is the automated fingerprint identification system.
Currently, the crime lab matches fingerprints by eye. When prints are found at a crime scene, the police need the fingerprints of a specific suspect to determine a match. Without probable suspects the fingerprints cannot be used to solve the crime.
The system allows the prints to be matched against their database records. This means that the technicians can match fingerprints against thousands of probable suspects significantly increasing the possibility of prosecutions.
Investigative judges, and army and police officers are already being trained at the lab.
The officers must carefully collect the evidence, and the investigative judges must understand the significance of forensics, or the evidence collected and presented won't be effective where it counts - in a court of law.
The final build for the lab is the DNA equipment installation in August.
The last phase includes combined training on the chemical and DNA equipment in September. Once this training is complete, the lab will be another operational force for the security of Basrah.