Name: Kara Hind
Born: Regina, Saskatchewan
Profession: Forensic Scientist
Calleigh Duquesne is the lead ballistics detective on the hit TV show CSI Miami. And amongst all the glitz and glamour of the show, properly examining a firearm can play an important role in cracking an important case. We talk with Kara Hind about what it's like to be a Firearms and Toolmark Specialist.
What is a Firearms and Toolmark Specialist?
A Firearms and Toolmark Specialist is a scientist who examines firearms and ammunition for the purpose of law.
What is a typical day like for you?
If I receive a firearm, I will conduct examinations on the exhibit(s) to determine if it is non-restricted (typically ordinary hunting and sporting rifles, shotguns and airguns), restricted (usually handguns and other firearms) or prohibited (such as those which include all fully automatic firearms, converted automatics and a variety of other firearms). I will also examine and test fire the firearm to determine its mechanical condition.
If I receive fired ammunition components such as fired bullets and expended cartridge cases, I will compare the exhibits to ammunition test-fired in the firearm and compare the two ammunition components to determine if the exhibit ammunition components were test-fired in the firearm.
Did you always want to be a Firearms and Toolmark Specialist?
During my Undergraduate program, I decided to work towards my goal of becoming a scientist at the RCMP Forensic Laboratory.
What is the last movie you saw? Thumbs up or thumbs down?
“The holiday” It was great. Thumbs up!
What courses in high school prepared you for this field?
An understanding of mathematics, physics and biology are critical for this job. Often it is necessary to determine bullet trajectories at crime scenes and an understanding of human anatomy is helpful when attending autopsies of shooting victims.
Where did you go to university?
I obtained my Bachelor degree (with Honors) in Chemistry and Biochemistry at the University of Regina.
How did you decide where to go?
I grew up in Regina.
What music do you have in your CD player right?
Bela fleck- Amazing Musician!
Was there extra training required for this career after you finished university? If so, what?
Yes, a Firearms and Toolmark examiner must successfully complete an 18 month understudy program.
What is the coolest part of your job?
I get to shoot just about any type of firearm I can think of.
You just won a million dollars. What’s the first thing you’d do?
Go on Vacation!
What’s the worst part of your job?
I love my job, I have no complaints.
Ooooops! Everyone makes mistakes so what was the dumbest thing you've ever done at work?
I once test-fired a handgun and forgot to put earmuffs on.
Any advice that you would give others seeking a similar career?
Make sure you get your honors degree.
Chocolate or Vanilla?
What are some great web links or references for someone interesting in reading up more about this career?
The Association of Firearm and Tool Mark Examiners