Firearms Forensics: War on illegal guns has Yakima scientist going 'extra mile'

Kristin Drury is unlike other forensic scientists. She works in Yakima, but these days a lot of her job brings her to the Washington State Patrol crime lab in Seattle. Kathy Geil, a forensic scientist with the WSP lab, participated in Drury’s certification, which she said is "very unusual -- she’s the only one in the state that is not associated with, but works at, the Washington state patrol crime lab.” Drury is only one of two forensic scientists in Yakima County, but when it comes to gun crimes, her work load is larger than Seattle’s. “On average, the Yakima Police Department takes in about 300 firearms a year,” she said. That’s about the same number of firearms collected throughout King County. The volume could easily overwhelm a staff of two, but Drury became certified so that she can process the gun evidence herself, and she has access to a much larger lab. “The need existed to get these guns processed. So their agency, and her initiating it saying, ‘Hey if I get trained as a firearms examiner, we can start processing these in-house and not have to wait through the standard back log time.' She’s able to do her own examination at her lab and then she brings that work here and we verify it,” Geil said. This means there is a much faster turnaround on the results. “It also helps our agency in developing crucial leads in cases, in a very timely fashion,” Drury said. She hopes that will inspire similar efforts across the state. “I think that in the next 10 years, I’d like to see more personnel and more collaboration with the smaller agencies in my county,” she said. And the scientists at the WSP crime lab are thrilled to have the help. “What she saves us now for working those cases is phenomenal,” Geil said.