UNLIREC organized second edition of pilot course in Dominican Republic to identify weapons by means of postal shipment through x-ray technology

Aware of the problem of illicit trafficking in arms, ammunition and their parts and components by means of postal shipments, the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace, Disarmament and Development in Latin America and the Caribbean (UNLIREC), developed in 2016 a practical tool to improve the capacity of practitioners in relation to their interpretation of x-ray images and identification of possible concealment methods. The Course for Interdicting Small Arms in Postal Shipments (ISAPS) was born as a result of these efforts, whose second edition was held in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, from 13 to 17 November with the invaluable collaboration of the Dominican Postal Institute (INPOSDOM) and the Ministry of Defense.

Thanks to the support of the Center for Adaptive Security Research and Applications (CASRA), UNLIREC designed a methodology that included training based on an electronic platform, theoretical presentations and a session on identifying concealment methods by means of an x-ray scanner. The ISAPS counted with the participation of officials responsible for the control of packages and luggage at entry and exit points from the INPOSDOM, the General Directorate of Customs, the Ministry of Defense, the Specialized Body for Port Security (CESEP), the Specialized Body in Airport Security and Civil Aviation (CESAC), the National Department of Investigations (DNI) and the National Directorate for the Control of Drugs (DNCD).

To measure the impact of this course, all 40 participants were divided into two groups that received this training in an independent and differentiated manner. The first group, called on line group, only had access to the online training platform during three days of the course. The second group, called joint group?in addition to online training?attended on-site training, received teaching materials and participated in practical exercises with techniques of identification of methods of concealment using the scanner, for another two additional days. Also, all participants performed initial and final tests, and pledged to train 12 additional hours on the online platform for the next month. When this training is finished, participants will proceed to take a final exam.

A preliminary comparative analysis of the performance of both groups in the initial and final tests?performed at the beginning and at the end of the course?shows that those participants who attended the on-site training and had access to the practical exercise were able to improve their ability to detect prohibited objects by 11% and their ability to discern a false threat by 17%. Once all the participants complete their final exam, a subsequent analysis will be carried out in order to measure the impact of the additional training through the virtual platform.

Among the reference material provided to participants, it must be highlighted as a fundamental pedagogical tool, the Arms, Ammunition, Parts and Components Identification Guide in which the operation and interpretation of images obtained by means of x-ray technology is addressed, and the main physical and material characteristics of arms, their parts and ammunition is collected in fact sheets, as well as their visualization through x-rays. The logical structure of the guide allows the user to become familiar with the physical appearance of arms, ammunition, parts and components and the equivalence with the images generated by the scanner.

UNLIREC welcomes the contribution of the Federal Republic of Germany, which made possible the development of the Arms, Ammunition, Parts and Components Identification Guide and the organization of the ISAPS.