The United States has provided the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) to Bangladesh Police as part of cooperation between the two countries and to enhance identification capability at their DNA laboratory.
US Ambassador in Dhaka Marcia Bernicat formally handed over the system at a ceremony at the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) headquarters in Dhaka on Thursday.
CODIS is the generic term used to describe the FBI's program of support for criminal justice DNA databases as well as the software used to run these databases.
Addressing the program, Bernicat emphasized meticulous collection of evidence from crime scenes, their careful preservation and keeping those safe from contamination to properly deal with crimes.
“Contaminated evidence can have dire consequences - the guilty can go free and in some cases, an innocent person might be implicated,” she said.
Additional Inspector General of Police Md Mokhlesur Rahman, Additional IG of Industrial Police Abdus Salam and CID’s DIG (HRM) Saiful Alam also spoke at the function.
Mentioning that sophisticated technology adds more responsibilities, Bernicat said CODIS blends forensic science and computer technology into an effective tool for solving crimes.
She said this technology, combined with local expertise, can be a major factor in the improvement of the criminal justice system in Bangladesh.
The US envoy said CODIS enables law enforcement crime laboratories to exchange and compare DNA profiles electronically, thereby linking serial violent crimes to each other, and to known offenders.
The public must be educated to stay clear of crime scenes and allow the police to process an uncontaminated crime scene, she said.
“The police must take more proactive steps to protect the integrity of crime scenes. Otherwise, a case that might have been solved could now become another cold case,” she said.
Bernicat said media can help by educating the public of importance of remaining outside the marked parameters of crime scenes until the scene is examined.
Additional IGP Mokhlesur said they are fighting and fighting back against the criminals with increasing success rate.
He also lauded the US’ support to Bangladesh Police in further strengthening its capacities in various areas.
In response to a request from the chief of Bangladesh’s CID, the US International Criminal Investigative Training Assistance Program (ICITAP) and the FBI sought and obtained US Counterterrorism Bureau funding to provide Bangladesh with CODIS capabilities, according to the US Embassy.
The FBI donated the CODIS software and the instructors for the weeklong training. ICITAP provided the server, operating software licenses, and travel expenses for the trainers, it said.
Certificates were also distributed among 21 CID officers of Dhaka Metropolitan Police who attended relevant training.