by Linda Straker
Grenada on Monday became the second of 13 Caribbean territories to receive an Automated Fingerprinting Identification Systems from US Government as part of efforts to assist in crime solving in the region.
“Together all these islands will be able to work to help each other solve crime,” said US Ambassador to Barbados and the OECS DR Larry Palmer. “The AFIS will enhance border security for the individual islands,” he said while explaining that it will make the searching of data base with fingerprints much easier and quicker.
The first of its kind system for the region it is funded by the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative and through Diplomatic Security Anti-Terrorism Assistance, the United States is providing AFIS to thirteen Caribbean nations, including the entire Eastern Caribbean, at a cost of US$250,000 per country.
Officer in charge of the Criminal Investigating Department Superintendent Trevor Modeste said that the system which was installed since January 2013 has already assisted with solving 79 cold cases, with one dating way back to the 1990s. “Most of those cases had to do with robbery of properties and we have had made a number of arrests,” he said.
“All fingerprints in the current system will be transferred to digital system,” Modeste said.
AFIS tightens border security against known criminals and terrorists by providing law enforcement with the capacity to collect and share digital fingerprint data. “This powerful resource has already yielded significant benefits for Grenada, as law enforcement officers have used the system to search and identify criminals through the AFIS digital fingerprint database” said the Commissioner of Police Winston James who called on officers to not see the equipment as a substitute for traditional policing.
“Take more time in searching for evidence on the scene, as fingerprinting will help in clearing up and solving crimes,” he said.
Ambassador Palmer said that digitisation of Grenada’s and other CARICOM nations’ paper fingerprint cards will raise Caribbean nations to the international law enforcement standard and ease coordination among law enforcement entities.