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The Forensic Art Unit is a team of trained forensic artists who provide their talents in art to assist law enforcement with solving crime. The artists are specially trained in the areas of composite sketches, age-progression, image modification, demonstrative evidence, postmortem sketches, and facial reconstructions from the skull.
To request the services of the Forensic Art Unit, contact MSP Operations 24/7 at 517-241-8000.
Forensic art is any art that aids in the apprehension or conviction of a criminal offender, or aids in the identification of unknown deceased persons. It is primarily used to present visual information to aid law enforcement in focusing on a suspect's appearance through a witness' description.
There are four categories of forensic art including:
Composite Imagery: Graphic images composed of individually described characteristics of the human face (may also include full body drawings or objects). This category includes images drawn by hand, computer generated images, and/or "identi-KIT" composites.
Image Modification/Identification: Methods of manipulation, enhancement and comparison, as well as the categorization of photographic images. This includes age progression and fugitive update drawings.
Demonstrative Evidence: Visual information used for court purposes (trial displays); can be computer generated or sketched by hand.
Reconstructive/Postmortem Drawings: Methods of identifying human remains in various conditions of decomposition. These include Two-Dimensional and Three-Dimensional facial reconstructions from the skull, as well as sketches and computer generated images.
Most often, a forensic artist is called upon to interview a victim or witness about the description of a suspect from a crime in which there are no other leads. The artist interviews the victim/witness on the various features of the face, documents these features, and creates a two dimensional likeness of the suspect involved in the crime. The composite image can also include objects such as tattoos, clothing, vehicles and jewelry to aid in the investigation. The law enforcement agency then works with the media and other agencies to circulate the composite image to the general public to generate tips as to the identity of this suspect. The composite sketch is often an important tool in the investigation.
Forensic Art Examples
Postmortem Drawing or Facial Reconstruction from a Skull
Michigan State Police Forensic Artists are specifically trained in all of the above disciplines. They are able to assist all law enforcement agencies on a 24-hour basis.
For information regarding the topic of forensic art, please contact the MSP Forensic Art Coordinator at MSP-FAU@michigan.gov.