For two years Kayla Snyders struggled to balance a Bachelor of Law with being a full-time medical receptionist in her home town of Forster on the mid-north coast of NSW.
CAPTION: Private Kayla Snyders switched from studying law to following her dream of being a police officer. Story by Captain Evita Ryan. Photo by Warrant Officer Two Kim Allen.
Looking for a change of scene, she relocated to Queensland’s Gold Coast and continued to follow her interest in law by applying to join the Queensland Police Service.
“I loved studying law, but it was a lot of work and at the time it was too much to handle while working full time,” Private Snyders said.
“I always wanted to be a police officer so when I moved to the Gold Coast in 2019, I applied for the Queensland Police Service.”
When the Queensland Police Service advised Kayla to apply again the following year, she started exploring other options, and in August 2020 enlisted in the Australian Army as a member of the Royal Australian Corps of Military Police.
After completing soldier training at the Army Recruit Training Centre in Kapooka, NSW, in November 2020, Private Snyders was posted to 1st Military Police Battalion in Brisbane, and within a year, was given the opportunity to learn forensic scenes-of-crime examination during Exercise Archibald 2021.
“The whole time I was thinking that if this is what being in the Military Police in Army is like, this is awesome,” Private Snyders said.
“The things we get to learn, what we get to do, are things that I would never imagine in a civilian career.”
In the lead-up to Exercise Archibald, Private Snyders spent two weeks learning about forensic examination of crime scenes from Military Police reservists who have specialist capabilities, including collecting and processing evidence from mock crime scenes.
“That was super interesting,” Private Snyders said.
“I’d never touched on anything like that before.
“I had no idea that military police had this kind of thorough forensic capability.
“I wish more people knew what we can do.”
In 2022, Private Snyders completed a Diploma of Forensic Investigation at the Canberra Institute of Technology and took the opportunity to shadow members of the Queensland Police Service’s scenes-of-crime team in Brisbane.
While she already knew how to collect fingerprints and shoe impressions, as well as take photographs of crime scenes, the diploma drew Private Snyders even deeper into the world of forensic science.
“We worked our way through forensic examination of so many different crime scenes,” Private Snyders said.
“We start at one end of the crime scene and move around the scene slowly and methodically, spiralling our way in and triaging the collection process to ensure that we collect evidence in priority order and within the allocated timeframe.”
With the diploma introducing the students to blood splatter analysis, DNA collection, presumptive blood testing, narcotic testing, ballistics and incorporating statement writing at the end of crime scene examinations, Private Snyders is grateful for all the training she’s been able to undertake so early in her career.
“In my second year with the battalion I was able to complete a diploma in something I never thought I’d get,” Private Snyders said.
“Now when I talk to my family about what I do at work, they say they don’t know what I’m talking about and that I’m using too many abbreviations.
“They say I’m talking ‘Army’, but I know they like to listen when I tell them what I’ve been up to.”