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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Governor signs bill setting a 6-year term for head of forensic sciences

Gov. Pedro Pierluisi

By John McPhaul

Gov. Pedro Pierluisi Urrutia announced on Monday the signing of House Bill 195, which amends the Institute of Forensic Sciences (ICF by its Spanish initials) Law to allow whoever heads the agency to hold the position for six years, and until a successor takes office.

“Since my administration began, I have ensured that Dr. María Conte, executive director of the ICF, has the resources she needs to maintain the highest standards of service at the Institute of Forensic Sciences,” the governor said in a written statement. “We have seen favorable changes in terms of management and technological advances in the agency. With this new law that I have signed, the ICF will have greater administrative and fiscal flexibility, eliminating bureaucratic steps and providing the necessary stability with a person in charge for six years.”

The academic and technical preparation, experience and other qualities of the ICF chief will be taken into account. In fact, it is established that while the appointment lasts, he/she may not engage in private business management or any profession.

The executive director position must be held by a qualified forensic scientist with a doctorate degree. Also, he or she must possess the proper certifications or accreditations from the board, college or council (American board) of their specialty (if applicable) and have at least three years of experience holding positions of similar responsibility in a forensic institution.

In May, Pierluisi and the ICF executive director announced that the ICF’s Division of Forensic Medicine and Toxicological Investigation had achieved accreditation from the National Association of Medical Examiners (NAME) by complying with high and rigorous quality standards established by the accrediting entity.

Also, a few weeks ago, the government announced that the ICF has a renovated and equipped autopsy room that will allow pathologists and technical personnel to carry out their work with modern and safe equipment. Also, with the new FARO technology in 3D and 360-degree format, exact images can be captured in criminal investigations, which in turn will speed up homicide investigations.

Last year the government reported that the ICF was analyzing in its DNA laboratory, and in a maximum term of 10 working days, the tests to detect genetic evidence in cases of sexual assault, known as safe kits, after the acquisition of new Rapid DNA technology.

Meanwhile, the governor also signed Senate Bill 344, which amends and adds subsections to the Puerto Rico Minors Law and the Rules of Procedure for Minors’ Matters.

The measure provides that the jurisdiction of the Juvenile Court will be exercised over subjects between 13 and 18 years of age and alternative procedures are established for those who have not reached the age of 13.

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