fb pixel

Log In

Reset Password

Medford's police artist described as 'chillingly accurate'

Why does the police department still use sketch artists to show what a suspect "might" look like? I could do a better job with graphics programs, and it might look more realistic.

— Chris T., via email

Chris, digital composite programs are for agencies that don't have Chuck Steinberg.

Steinberg, a retired police officer, has been Medford Police Department's resident sketch artist for more than 17 years.

In 1995, his "chillingly accurate" portrayal of Robert James Acremant, who was wanted for the murder of Roxanne Ellis and Michelle Abdill, led to the criminal's arrest, said Medford police Lt. Mike Budreau.

"He has an amazing ability to create accurate composites ... and until we don't have his services any more, we're going to utilize him," Budreau said.

The PoliceDepartment has tried using facial composite software, but nothing has been as successful as Steinberg's old-fashioned drawings.

One computer program, Identi-Kit, features a digital library of eyes, ears, noses, chins, etc., which the witness can use to piece together the suspect's face. However, this method is very time-consuming and exhausting. And after looking at more than 50 sets of eyes, a witness may begin to doubt his/her recollection or be forced to settle, Budreau said.

Steinberg uses a pencil and paper to record the witness' description. He carries an eraser and makes changes to his sketch as new details surface so that by the time he's done, the witness can say with confidence about the suspect, "That's him."

Send questions to "Since You Asked," Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by email to youasked@mailtribune.com. We're sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them.