The Police Composite Sketch


The Police Composite Sketch
Stephen Mancusi

Humana Press

Now available on

The police composite sketch, one of the most crucial investigative tools in law enforcement, is developed during a composite session an intense display of communication and art in which the words of a witness are transformed into the features of a suspect. Despite the incredible technological leaps made in investigative work, the forensic art of composite sketching still relies on the basic elements of drawing skill, interviewing ability and the spoken word.

The Police Composite Sketch is a comprehensive manual on how to conduct a complete composite session. Through an array of case studies, it details several disciplines that comprise this specialized forensic art of composite sketching. It also addresses image modification, age progression, facial comparison analysis, demonstrative evidence and post mortem/skull reconstruction. It explores how to intuit insights that are often inadvertently revealed by witnesses, victims and the perpetrator's characteristics during the composite session.

In addition, this book discusses other relevant topics, such as the three stage drawing technique, witness and victim types, descriptive terminologies, managing composite sessions. Complete with numerous illustrations and drawing tips, this seminal work offers a general composite session philosophy and specific session strategies to both experienced and aspiring forensic artists as well as any lay reader intrigued by this fascinating skill.


Reviews Below:

A Wealth of Experience
Karen T. Taylor

"I would certainly recommend Stephen Mancusi's text, The Police Composite Sketch, to anyone interested in the process of artistically retrieving a face from memory for investigative purposes. Though not the first book solely devoted to composite sketching, it is the best one. As the title indicates, this is a work expressly about drawings from eyewitness descriptions, told from a position of "street smart" savvy by a veteran police officer.

This volume serves as a tangible representation of a highly successful career's worth of crime-fighting police composite art. Stephen's solid personal experience and proven results are visually demonstrated with extensive skillful facial drawing examples. The information shared, particularly drawing tips, should be useful to both novice and seasoned police artists. Much of the material is presented anecdotally through the re-telling of case studies, which are peppered with a wealth of insightful tips and suggestions.

In a time when research in cognitive psychology provides more and more valuable insight into eyewitness memory retrieval and face recognition issues, the personal accounts related here also underscore a fundamental truth. The basic tenets of art skill, anatomical knowledge and intuitive, sensitive interviewing techniques should not be underestimated in this complex process. Stephen's work clearly establishes that these remain root components of the facial composite-generating function that no software can ever fully replicate or replace. Users of composite software systems would be well-advised to learn the foundations put forth in this book.

Mancusi is to be commended for the compilation and painstaking documentation of this worthwhile body of work and particularly for sharing his understanding and acumen with future practitioners."

Sheila Anne Feeney
"amNY" Reporter

"I have your book, Stephen. Mazel tov! I remember that amazing Stuy Town case. What an impressive accomplishment. Every little snippet I've gleaned has been wonderful so far."

"It's really great."

"Yours is fresh and thoughtful and interesting - even for people who can't draw. And as a reporter, I totally vibe to what you've written about the need to LISTEN to the witness."

"Laughed out loud reading the section about the morgue"


Forensic Art

Copyright © 2000 Stephen Mancusi. All Rights Reserved.