The Belize Police Department continues to be the beneficiary of assistance with training and equipment from the United States Government through its embassy in Belmopan. Belize has been gifted fourteen (14) Afix Tracker Systems to be installed in key locations at Police Stations country-wide. The United States Embassy has also provided the training for over 30 Police and Scenes of Crime Officers from all the districts, on how to use and operate these systems.
The Afix Tracker System, an Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS), is a biometrics system commonly used by law enforcement agencies around the world. It allows for finger and palm prints recovered from crime scenes to be digitally captured and then compared to fingerprint records from a data bank in the AFIS system. The system is equipped with a fingerprint and palm print live scan system and a mug shot camera, which allows for digital finger and palm prints and photos to be digitally captured in real-time from arrested persons.
This newest addition to the Belize Police Department’s crime-fighting arsenal will enhance the department’s current fingerprint identification capabilities, as it will now allow comparisons to be made on site at 14 different locations countrywide.
The U.S. Embassy transferred 14 new Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS) terminals, valued at approximately $430,000 USD, to the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Belize Police Department. Chargé d’Affaires, a.i. Adrienne Galanek and Minister of State for Home Affairs Elodio Aragon signed the official handover documents at Police Headquarters in Belmopan at the handing over ceremony took place on Monday, December 4, 2017. Chargé Galanek’s remarks highlighted the Embassy’s dedication to assist the Government of Belize to increase its forensic capacity, decrease impunity, improve the justice system, and make Belize safer for all.
As Minister Aragon stated in his remarks, this much needed AFIS upgrade and expansion is a “milestone for the Belize Police Department and the people of this country.” With today’s handover, the Government of Belize now has a significantly expanded forensic toolset to investigate and ultimately prosecute crime.
The Government of Belize first invested in AFIS in 2002. These additional terminals, software upgrades, and an associated server, donated by the Government of the United States, allow Belize’s AFIS network to be truly nationwide, with a terminal in each district office, the Police Training Academy, and other key sites. The United States also provided training in Belmopan for police officers, Scenes of Crime technicians, and Police Academy instructors, who will be responsible for further training. Personnel can now conduct automated fingerprint searches against the central database, store electronic images, and electronically exchange fingerprints and responses at any time of day, 365 days a year.
Since 2008, the United States has contributed over US $42 million to advance citizen security, economic prosperity, and good governance in Belize through our Central America Regional Security Initiative (CARSI). The ceremony was followed by a demonstration of how the equipment works.