She’s 22 years old.
At 22, Lt Khadijah Al Balooshi is making waves in a job many think is only for men. She would painstakingly examine dead bodies, or scan a house for a burglar’s fingerprints. Where there is crime, she would be there to get to the truth. She is the first Emirati woman to lead the crime scene investigation (CSI) team of the Dubai Police.
Her duty in the CSI, which comes under the force’s General Department of Forensics and Criminology, is yet another proof that nothing is impossible for a woman in the UAE. Lt Al Balooshi had just joined the Dubai Police a few months ago in a department that in many countries is still an exclusive preserve for men.
Was she daunted by the job description?
“When I took up the role, I said to myself, why not? I’ve always loved to work in a position that helps me find clues and uncover the truth and make the society a better place to live in,” she said.
In retrospect, she said, she had always wanted to work for the General Department of Forensics and Criminology. It was a dream that she cherished while studying at the Dubai Police Academy.
Lt Al Balooshi is also the first woman from her family to work for the police. With a supportive family in a nation that champions women empowerment, she knew she could turn a big dream into reality.
“I’m fortunate to live in a country that appreciated women’s role in society. I wanted to take up this challenge to become the first Emirati woman to lead a CSI team,” she said.
Lt Al Balooshi graduated in July 2020 amid the raging Covid-19 pandemic, which led to the cancellation of the graduation ceremony. She persisted with her dreams, despite the contagion challenge and undertook several training sessions and practical courses, which, eventually, helped her qualify for the position.
She mastered the task of managing crime scenes, from collecting evidence and ensuring they are not tampered with to analysing and identifying blood types.
“My skill sets improved tremendously because of the rigorous training sessions. I gather more experience as I interacted with my colleagues. My superiors have an innate faith in my ability as a professional,” she said.
The 22-year-old lieutenant may just have started her career but she has already handled some key cases and proved how good she is at job.
One of the cases she had worked on was about a woman in her 30s, who her roommates had claimed died of natural causes. But she looked into every detail and painstakingly uncovered the true story. She found out that woman died a drug overdose. The corpse had tell-tale needle marks on her arms, which proved that she was involved in intravenous drug abuse.
“I wrote the report about the incident and submitted it to the General Department of Anti-Narcotics, helping them conduct an investigation and ascertain all the details needed for the case,” she added.
She also worked on a burglary at a villa. With the boxes she found on the floor of a room, they were able to lift fingerprints that matched with a suspect.
For Lt Balooshi, no two days are the same but a systematic routine is in place. She starts her day by ensuring her team is ready for the next eight hours of duty. As soon as the Dubai Police receive a report about an incident, the team gets cracking. Protocol demands that seven meticulous steps are followed.
They go to the crime scene; secure it; keep curious onlookers out of the perimeter; and ensure the place is sanitised. Duties and responsibilities are allocated among various team members such as gathering evidence.
Photographs are then taken, while Lt Al Balooshi as the team leader goes through the details with precision.
Later, she sends requests to experts from the department to check the evidence, such as fingerprints, chemicals, etc. Then, the team tries to find the motive of the crime and look for suspect(s) who may be involved.
Finally, she writes a report about the evidence they found at the crime scene, which is shared with the next department in charge to move the case forward.
So, what’s next for the young achiever?
“We never stop learning, and I’d like to pursue my post-graduate and doctorate degrees in due course. I hope to reach the pinnacle of education. A person must always learn either by reading or enrolling for courses or undergoing rigorous training,” she added.
She believed that the UAE would emerge as one of the leading nations in the world to put women first in all walks of life. And she is a role model in that direction of more guts and glory for women’s power.