26 September 2023

Police women using science to fight crime

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The Australian Federal Police (AFP) marked International Day of Women and Girls in Science on Friday (11 February) by showcasing the dedicated AFP women who use science and technology to keep people safe.

Celebrating the women, AFP said Chief Forensic Scientist at AFP, Dr Sarah Benson had been at the forefront of developing a new explosives analysis capability in 2000, which positioned AFP to work alongside Australian and international counterparts in the aftermath of the tragic Bali bombings 20 years ago.

“These and other scientific capabilities have positioned Australia to contribute to some of the most devastating incidents in recent times, including the downing of Malaysia Airline flight MH17 in 2014 and support to New Zealand Police in response to the volcanic eruption on White Island in 2019,” AFP said.

It also shone a light on Jennifer Garcia, who trained as an organic chemist and joined the AFP as a Laboratory Technician in 2014.

AFP said Ms Garcia (pictured) had since moved to Digital Forensics, where she analysed data on computers, phones and other electronic devices to find evidence of offending, such as child abuse and exploitation.

“Ultimately my role is to help investigators secure digital evidence,” Ms Garcia said.

“We can advise if we think devices are likely to get wiped or integrity of evidence will be compromised in any way and work to secure these devices,” she said.

“Working at the AFP for me was a life-long dream.

“It stems from my upbringing in South America, where crime was rife and everywhere.”

Ms Garcia said she knew she wanted to work for law enforcement at a very young age.

AFP also showcased the work of Analyst, Karly Redwood who studied Criminology, Intelligence and Drug Strategy.

“Despite not possessing a formal scientific qualification, I have been able to diversify and enhance my skillset, and that of my team, to ensure we can continue to build on the AFP Forensic Drug Intelligence capability, and the reputation of the AFP as a trusted partner in delivering science in a meaningful way,” Ms Redwood said.

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