The Art of Police Sketches

Are Forensic Sketch or Composite Artists a Thing of the Past?

According to Wikipedia, a “Facial composite is a graphical representation of one or more eyewitnesses’ memories of a face, as recorded by a composite artist.”

As you’ve no doubt seen in movies and television, a witness to a crime will sit down with an officer and describe what they can remember about a criminal’s identity. The officer then draws something that is hopefully similar to what the witness has described.

There was a time when many police departments across the country had their own police sketch artists. Unfortunately, due to various computer programs, the occupation is becoming a thing of the past.

Famous Images

Below are some of the more well-known police sketches. We’ll start with some of history’s most notorious murderers. You can be the judge of how close these witnesses and sketch artists got to the real thing.

Other Classic Police Sketches

Top Left: D.B. Cooper Top Right: Jack the Ripper Bottom Left: The I-70 Killer Bottom Right: The Connecticut River Valley Killer

They Don’t Always Nail It

These are close-ish?

These Guys Will Be Tough to Find

A Collection of the More Bizarre

Someone got paid to draw these composite sketches. There’s not one of these folks that I’d like to meet in a dark alley.

Witness Sketches

Sometimes someone may witness a crime and want to get the image of what they see down on paper before they have time to visit a professional. In these cases, the drawings weren’t great but they did the job.

Long Running Memes

Everyone knows about the news reporter who may also be the serial rapist drawn in the police sketch. And then there’s the witness description of a leprechaun who lived in a neighborhood tree.

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