Every year thousands of eyewitnesses meet with forensic artists (police artist/sketch artist) to describe the face of their assailant. The sketch evidence that’s produced from this interview may be used as probable cause to detain a subject who resembles the sketch. Investigators and forensic art practitioners must understand the process for creating this sketch evidence and strive to enforce best practices that will reduce the probability of misidentification by eyewitnesses.
Cognitive Sketch Evidence 1.1
Define eyewitness memory
How does understanding the function of eyewitness memory assist investigators?
Trained in composite art by the FBI in 1993, Gil continues to assist law enforcement agencies by creating cognitive sketches, from eyewitness interviews, to identify assailants. While working as the police artist for the San José Police Department, he gained valuable insight on the issues of eyewitness misidentification and developed his unique methodology. Since 1996 he’s completed over 3,000 sketch interviews focused on gathering reliable sketch evidence. Gil has testified as a forensic art expert in criminal and civilmcases regarding composite sketch evidence.
After retirement Gil gained notoriety as the forensic artist featured in the Real Beauty Sketches video (Dove, 2013) about how real women saw themselves compared to how others saw them. Gil holds a Masters in Education and a Bachelors in Behavioral Sciences; he lectures at SJSU on forensic art and eyewitness interviews. Gil practices meditation and completed intense programs in Compassion Cultivation Training (Stanford, 2017), and Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR, 2016); he’s also an advocate for mindfulness programs that contribute to the wellness of law enforcement personnel.
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—Michael McGarvey, California State Prison, San Quentin
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