Those of us employed as Forensic Artists, either by a law enforcement agency, or as a private business offering forensic services, work hard behind the scenes providing investigative support for detectives.
As a full-time forensic artist with the Baltimore City Police Department, most of my time is spent creating composite sketches for detectives. Every so often I receive a call for help with an unidentified body. But most of the time, I handled requests for assistance with street robberies, non-fatal shootings, sexual assaults or any other felony that typically lands on the desk of a big-city detective. Though it might sound routine and predictable, it’s anything but.
Those of you who are fans of television police procedural programs have probably watched their fictitious forensic artist, working quietly behind the scenes, helping a victim create the face of someone who just finished brutalizing them.
They always make the job look easy. Unfortunately, it isn’t.
For those of you curious about how a real forensic artist spends their day; I thought this month would be the perfect time to invite you behind the scenes and share my typical day with you. Follow me into my ‘face factory’ and see what it’s like being a full-time forensic artist.
My day begins with a review of area newspapers and media reports of crimes that occurred overnight. Afterwards, I log into my computer and examine cases recently assigned to precinct detectives. If I don’t receive any requests on crimes I think might benefit from a composite sketch, I’ll send a reminder e-mail to the assigned detective letting them know of my availability. If there isn’t an immediate response, I work on other projects.
For example, this month, I have a facial reconstruction that I am completing with the help of experts, using specialized 3d sculpting technology. After a couple of hours sculpting, I’ll stop to prepare material for upcoming training. When finished, I consult with my software programmers who are putting the final touches on a bilingual version of my company’s latest facial composite software program.
Just when I thought it was time to breathe, an e-mail arrives from the media, or a new client has called asking for an age progression. Outside of my work as a forensic artist, I am also an author, so there are contracts to review, marketing to take care of and new cases to consider writing about.
As my day draws to a close, I’m left putting the finishing touches on soon to be completed projects, while considering new requests for services from law enforcement agencies and private entities. After an evening break to eat dinner and spend time with family, I head back to the office to check e-mails and contact international clients one more time before heading off to bed.
Busy? Yes. But, I wouldn’t have it any other way.
As you can see, there is so much more going on behind the scenes in the life of a forensic artist than what’s depicted on TV. Each day is different. Some activity you have control over, some you don’t. But, if you ask anyone who works as a forensic artist, they would probably agree with me when I say that I wouldn’t have it any other way. For me it’s too rewarding a job to see any downside.
I hope after reading this month’s blog entry, each time you see a composite sketch in the media, you’ll know there’s someone else’s face behind it.
Who knows? Someday, it might be yours! I hope so.
Oh, one last thing before I sign off. I want to personally invite all of you to enroll in my first online course. I’m getting ready to launch it to the general public through our SketchCop® Online Academy! As a subscriber to our newsletter, you can download the course for a special introductory price–only $27. (Hint: Sign up for our newsletter at SketchCop Academy Online)
For a sneak peek, check out the FREE lecture preview.
Last, but not least, those of you who are new to our newsletter, can catch up on those you misses by clicking here.
Thanks again for stopping by. I hope you enjoyed this month’s blog post. Please let me know if there are any special topics you’d like me to share.
In the meantime, that’s all for now. Be safe and keep on sketching!