The concept of using facial composite assembly systems to create criminal composites is not new. Over the years, it’s been a hard-sell for companies who dabbled in the technology and tried to market their creations to law enforcement.
In my opinion, facial composite assembly systems, whether mechanical, or software-driven, fell short because forensic artists were rarely involved in product development. The failure of these facial composite assembly systems to gain a solid foothold in law enforcement left forensic artists feeling pretty confident about their own work. Still, I always believed a better solution was out there and I was determined to find it.
During my journey to create a better facial composite software solution, I was thankful to have met and trained under three veteran forensic artists who themselves were involved in developing and implementing forensic facial imaging software programs. These men helped shape my world view of the discipline and influenced me to push the envelope and embrace a technology solution. They were great mentors and I want to take a brief moment to introduce them to you.
Fernando Ponce – Los Angeles Police Department
Fernando Ponce, a classically trained painter, held the job title – Police Composite Artist for many years before retiring in the mid 1990’s. I first met Ponce in 1979 when I attended a forensic art course he taught. Afterwards, we struck up a friendship that lasted several years. He shared his dream with me of creating a facial composite software program to help officers manually construct composite images. Unfortunately, he was such a perfectionist; he never completed the program. The technology at the time didn’t live up to his strict image standards.
Tom Macris – San Jose Police Department
Tom Macris was trained and educated as a commercial artist before joining the San Jose Police Department. I was lucky to have met him on a couple of occasions and marveled at his talent
During Tom’s career he partnered with Visatex Corportation to create Compusketch, a facial composite software program. Although, one time a popular software for law enforcement, it eventually disappeared off the market.
Horace Heafner – Federal Bureau of Investigation
I met Horace in 1984 during an F.B.I. police artist conference I attended at the F.B.I. Academy. Horace’s career at the F.B.I. spanned over 40 years. After leaving the bureau, Heafner worked at the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children where he helped pioneer their model Age Progression program. Horace quickly adapted to the software blending the new tools with his art skills & training to become a sought after expert on the subject of computerized age progression.
All three men pioneered the emergence of technology in the field of forensic facial imaging. Though passionate about their work, they never allowed themselves to become affected by their own celebrity status. Each of them had enough humility to keep an open mind about developing technology and the role it would play to transform the discipline.
To build on their legacy and continue their tradition of mentorship, SketchCop® Solutions, Inc. offers many learning opportunities. Digitals tools, software products and textbooks are available to help take your skills to the next level.
After reading this newsletter, please take a moment to look around the academy website. Read the blog, sign up for the newsletter and take a course. Upon completing our courses, you will now be awarded a serialized certificate of completion to prove your newfound knowledge.
If that all sounds good to you, stay tuned. We are planning on rolling up our sleeves, picking up a pencil and/or stylus and get to what this academy is all about…learning a better way of creating faces. If you’re in, then so am I.