The work of a police sketch artist can now be done with the click of a mouse. According to the San Bernardino Sun, a new software program called SketchCop FACETTE uses sketch facial features as a base platform when interviewing eyewitnesses.

“All the pieces are made up already, sketched by an artist in the system — eyes, nose, chin. All they have to do is interview the eyewitness, have them pick out the specific pieces, and (the detective) puts it all together to make a face,” said sketch artist Michael Streed, developer of the software.

The goal of SketchCop FACETTE is to enable departments who don’t have sketch artists to produce sketches.

“Typical police sketch artists are usually taken from inside the police department,” Streed said. “But the problem with that is they would get varying styles and varying quality. Departments would spend thousands and thousands of dollars to train an officer — to get them up to speed and get their skills down.”

Streed has been a sketch artist for over 30 years. As the Sun notes, he developed this software in order to stay relevant in the industry.

“Cellphone photographs, social media, surveillance cameras are all having an impact,” he said. “Advances in facial biometrics, such as facial recognition software, allows the department to take the photographs and plug them into the facial recognition software to obtain a list of possible candidates.”

“You have to adapt to changes so you don’t become irrelevant,” he added.

Police are already singing the praise of SketchCop FACETTE. Sgt. Tom Yarrington of the Fontana Police Department in California said the quality of the sketch using SketchCop is greater than if they used a normal sketch artist or older programs.

“With the old computer programs, it was just the shape of a face or the shape of a head,” he said. “Sometimes we caught the guy and it looked just like him. Other times, we caught the guy and it looked nothing like the cartoon we just made.”

According to the Sun, Streed isn’t ready to retire from being a sketch artist just yet. He recently accepted a position as a full-time sketch artist for the Baltimore Police Department. However, he remains committed to SketchCop FACETTE.

“As much as I love free-hand sketching, you have to go where the technology takes you,” he said. “The ones who are going to survive and thrive are the ones who embrace technology and the ones who understand how to use the technology available.”

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