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Police Can Now Trace Guns on Net

Trinidad and Tobago Express

21 May 2009

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A memorandum of understanding (MOU) between this country's Police Service and the United States Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) was on Tuesday signed at the Ministry of National Security headquarters.

The MOU seeks to provide eTrace, which is an electronic system used to trace illicit firearms.

Signing on behalf of the ATF was John Ries, the Charge D'Affaires, of the US Embassy, in Port of Spain, while acting Commissioner of Police James Philbert signed on behalf of the Police Service.

Speaking shortly after the signing, Philbert said with the introduction of eTrace great rewards can be expected and the Police Service is "thankful to engage in such an exercise which is not only historic but also important."

Stating that T&T does not manufacture firearms, Philbert said this latest initiative will seek to gather information about where the illegal firearms are coming from.

Noting the Organised Crime, Narcotics and Firearms Bureau is just one of the agencies within the service which will have access to eTrace, Philbert said such an initiative comes on the heels of a firearm being stolen from a pawn shop in North Carolina and ended up being used to commit a crime in Trinidad.

Stating his officers have recovered more than 130 illegal firearms and 700 rounds of ammunition for the year thus far, Philbert said it will only be a matter of time before the initiative gets off the ground.

Ries, who also addressed the media, congratulated Philbert on partnering with the US and noted such a step is a move forward.

The eTrace is a system which involves a paperless firearm trace submission system that is accessible through a secure connection to the World Wide Web.

This internet application provides the necessary utilities for submitting, retrieving, storing and querying firearms trace-related information allowing for the systematic tracing of firearms recovered from crime scenes.

Analysis of firearms and the trace data can assist in the identification of firearms trafficking patterns and geographic profiling for criminal hot spots and possible sources of illicit firearms.

Guyana, St Lucia, Australia, Britain, Bahamas, Jamaica, Japan and Mexico are just some of the countries which have enlisted eTrace and form part of the December 2007 joint Caribbean Community (Caricom)-US Initiative on Combating the Illicit Trafficking in Small Arms and Light Weapons and Ammunition.

ID: N433

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