A training case that seems like an open-and-shut suicide quickly reveals itself to be a homicide as members of the Iraqi Police use the skills they learned during a two-week course taught by the 203rd Military Police Battalion on dissecting a murder scene.
Image 1: Members of the Iraqi Police prepare to investigate a crime scene April 22, 2010, during the final evaluation of their two-week evidence collection course hosted by 203rd Military Police Battalion in Basrah, Iraq. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Maurice Galloway, 17th FiB PAO)
Soldiers from the 203rd MP Bn., along with law enforcement professionals Donnie Weller and David Diaz, held a two-week evidence collection course in April at the Provincial Joint Coordination Center in Basra, Iraq, designed to implement standardized evidence collection procedures for the IP.
The training led to a final evaluation of a crime scene investigation held at the Iraqi Police Training Center on Contingency Operating Base Basra.
Two identical containerized housing units served as the murder sites, while two Soldiers from the 203rd MP Bn. posed as victims. As the IPs broke into two groups and delegated responsibilities, things appeared typical until they began assessing the scene.
“The first thing I did was check the victim to see if he was still alive. After concluding that he was dead, I began piecing together the evidence,” said Capt. Mushtak Nuri Abbas, an IP team leader with the Crime Scene Investigation Team.
“At first it looked like a suicide, but things just didn’t add up: the placement of the weapon, the handwriting in the suicide note that didn’t match the handwriting on other documents, a faint trail leading back into the room, and a set of bloody fingerprints outside the door,” said Abbas.
Diaz said that they strategically placed 10 critical pieces of evidence throughout each crime scene the IPs had to find to deduce the cause of death.
“The evaluation was a bit harder than we expected,” said Abbas. “We had to rely on the training we learned in order to solve the scenario. This course was a tremendous help.”
In November, the Basra Provincial Reconstruction Team and 17th Fires Brigade Rule of Law team brought local judges and police together for the first time when they arranged a conference at the Basra Palace of Justice. The conference opened lines of communication between the two.
During the conference, Chief Judge Khaz’al Da’bol Qasim said only by working together would the judges and the police be able to assess the system and implement a strategy.