Police force lab up-to-date - donor
Stabroek News
October 8, 2002

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The Guyana Police Force Forensic Laboratory (GPFFL) can be considered technologically up-to-date with similar facilities in the United States and other parts of the world, says former GPFFL head, Lloyd Houston.

Houston, who directed the GPFFL about 32 years ago, recently donated two gas chromatographs and two spectrometers along with relevant accessories, including three Pentium computers, at a cost of US$50,000 to the local crime lab.

In an interview with Stabroek News last Friday, Houston said the equipment has dramatically advanced the lab's capacity to deal with specific criminal evidence analysis.

According to Houston, the gas chromatographs identify illicit drugs, namely marijuana, cocaine, heroin, amphetamines, pesticides and barbiturates among others while the spectrometers distinguish each substance from the other.

"Of course, the lab still needs chemical standards, solvents, a sonicator and other technical paraphernalia but these will be acquired over time," Houston stated.

He noted too that there were no major changes in the lab since his tenure more than thirty years ago. Further, the GPFFL carried out fingerprint, photography, handwriting and ballistics evaluation during his term of management and prior to his migration overseas, Houston said.

Asked whether it would be feasible for the GPF to pursue DNA testing, Houston responded; "No, I don't think so. Although, the area of DNA testing is generally outside of my expertise, I would say that the costs for acquisition of the necessary apparatus is far too much. [In other words, it would be somewhat] impractical for the GPF to pursue DNA testing."

Houston, an employee of Agilent Technologies for some 28 years, declined to offer any recommendations with regard to dealing with the ongoing escalation in crime and violence facing Guyana.

"It has been my observation that the Police Commissioner (Floyd McDonald) and the Home Affairs Minister (Ronald Gajraj) have been working to the best of their abilities to resolves the country's problems with crime in the given circumstances.

The army too is playing a vital role. It would be presumptuous of me to attempt to review what they have been doing when I haven't been in the country long enough to draw sufficiently accurate conclusions about their work, specifically." Houston is still working alongside the GPFFL's lab technicians to ensure they master the "use, care and maintenance" of the recently donated equipment and plans to return to Guyana in December to further assist them.

He has expressed his desire to continue contributing to the improvement of the standards of the GPF. (Edlyn Benfield)