My guest on the next episode of the Crime Cafe podcast is Michael Streed, who is not only an author, but is a police sketch artist. Thus his giveaway pertains to his drawing ability.

Michael is giving away a 30-minute online drawing lesson!

That is such a totally cool giveaway, I’d enter myself, if it weren’t so totally wrong for me to do so.

To enter the giveaway, click here or see below:

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And with that, let’s hear from the SketchCop!

My Unlikely Path from Writing Police Reports to Writing Books.

First off, I want to thank all of you who either listened to me on Debbi Mack’s Crime Cafe podcast and/or those reading my blog post.

It’s a privilege to be sharing my experiences with you.

If you would have told me over four decades ago that I would be receiving all this attention from my work AND that I would be the author of TWO books…well, I don’t know what I would have told you, because I wouldn’t have believed it was possible.

It just wasn’t something that was on my radar. In my role as a police officer, I was having too much fun catching bad guys. I was having even more fun helping other police officers catch worse criminals as a police sketch artist. As a matter of fact, I didn’t think of becoming an author until my late wife suggested I write a book about my experiences. Once I made the decision to write my first book; I had to find an agent and a publishing company. (More on that in another paragraph.)

During my law enforcement career, I’ve met literally tens of thousands of people from all walks of life. I’ve always believed that everyone has a story to tell, or a book inside of them. All that’s necessary is to produce it and find your audience.

When I made my decision to write, I spent a lot of time trying to figure out how to begin. After countless rejections, I found a so-called publishing agent. He connected me with a so-called publishing company who didn’t deliver on their promises. Their contract was bad and at the time, I didn’t have an entertainment lawyer, like I do now, to read and amend the contract to level the playing field. To correct the imbalance, my solution was to wait out the seven-year rights revision period and take back my book.

Once that period passed and my life settled down, my new wife, a former marketing executive, suggested that I take a run at publishing the book again. This time, I edited some material out, added new material and began my search in earnest for a new publisher.

This time, I found a legitimate publisher – WildBlue Press. I quickly learned they cared about their authors and took the time to properly publish my life’s work to my satisfaction. I’m happy with the product they produced and proudly share it with others when I can. (Crimefighting takes up a whole lot of time it seems.)

The following year after I published SketchCop – Drawing A Line Against Crime (WildBlue Press) I published a textbook – Creating Digital Faces for Law Enforcement (Elsevier/Academic Press).

And for the first time, I’m pleased to announce here, on Crime Cafe, that I’m nearly finished with my next non-fiction, true crime book about a murder case I contributed a composite sketch to that rocked the community I policed.

When I began writing, I found out it was very much like drawing. The thing that most artists fear most is a blank piece of paper. It’s very much like writer’s block. Sometimes you just have to put some lines down…or maybe some words to get the party started. The worst thing you’ll have to do is erase some lines or hit ‘Delete’.

Thinking back to my first police sketch, it was much like my first writing efforts. In the beginning, detectives and publishers didn’t understand the impact that turning a person’s words into a frightening image would have on the public. Luckily, I persevered.

Now, several years later; I’m still here, listening and learning.

For those of you reading this who are more visual artist than writer maybe you’ll consider entering my giveaway.

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One lucky listener will have the chance to win A 30-Minute Live Sketch Tutorial with me….

For those who prefer reading true crime, I’ve included an excerpt from my book – SketchCop: Drawing A Line Against Crime. (WildBlue Press) I hope you enjoy it!

* * *

Wailing sirens pierced the chill of a winter evening as officers raced toward a report of a robbery that had just occurred at a Burger King restaurant in Orange, California. As we raced toward the scene, our radios crackled with an update: There was now a “man down” inside the location.

Officer Larry Forrester, then a six-year police veteran and SWAT team member, was the first officer to arrive. As he pulled his patrol car to a stop in the front parking lot, he was confronted by several panicked restaurant employees. Forrester leaped from his vehicle to question the restaurant’s crew, who were upset and confused by what had just happened.

Based on the dispatcher’s radio updates, Forrester was wary that the gunman might still be inside the restaurant. To determine if he was, the officer asked the employees several times, “Is he gone?” But they just shouted back at him repeatedly, “They shot Walter!”

Initially, Forrester decided that he would wait for backup. Peeking through the front windows, he could see the back door standing open. Was it possible the suspect exited through that door? Or was he waiting inside to ambush police? Based on what he saw, Forrester couldn’t really be sure.

One thing Forrester was sure of — a critically wounded victim was inside the restaurant waiting for help. Weighing his options, he made the courageous decision to not wait for backup, but enter the restaurant to rescue the victim. He carefully made his way back to the office, where he found the night manager was dead.

As other officers began to arrive, Forrester returned outside where he was finally able to obtain the suspect’s description from the horrified witnesses. He broadcast the description to the rest of us who were desperately waiting for the information as we circled the area in our cruisers hoping to locate a suspect.

Once the description was broadcast, we fanned out looking for the killer whom witnesses described as a black man in his mid-twenties, approximately 6-foot and 175 pounds with black hair wearing a “beanie-style cap” and a long, dark-colored jacket. While the rest of us searched, Forrester remained at the crime scene to help protect it from curious onlookers and to preserve any evidence that the suspect might have been left behind.

After an exhaustive and lengthy area search, it appeared as if the suspect had disappeared into the night. His take for his actions? Approximately $2,500 and the life of an innocent young man, someone he didn’t know and had no reason to kill. Frustrated at our inability to find him, a few of us continued our search throughout the remainder of the shift as we fielded calls for service.

Thinking back to that shift and how the night of Dec. 11, 1980, began, I would describe it as pretty routine…

* * *

Thanks again for the opportunity to share my experiences with you. I wish you all the best success in your endeavors and encourage you to follow me on social media @thesketchcop on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.


(Ret.) Police Sergeant Michael W. Streed is an award-winning, internationally recognized, Forensic Facial Imaging Expert.

For nearly 40 years, Michael has blended his rich law enforcement experience and artistic skills to provide forensic facial imaging services to some of the largest, most diverse, police agencies in the United States, including the Baltimore and Los Angeles Police Departments.

As Baltimore Police Department’ s first ever, full-time, I.A.I. Certified Forensic Artist; Michael was tasked with building their Forensic Facial Imaging Unit from the ‘ground up’. Once established, he handled one of the country’s busiest caseloads, distinguishing his unit as the first-of-its-kind to be awarded ISO 17020 accreditation.

Michael’ s long and distinguished career as a forensic artist paralleled his successful law enforcement career. The experience he gained investigating violent crimes, sexual assaults and juvenile crime helped him develop highly specialized interview skills which Michael adapted for his role as a police sketch artist. His unique perspective on eyewitnesses, coupled with strong communication skills, made Michael one of Southern California’ s most sought after police sketch artists. In fact, Orange Coast Magazine once referred to Michael as “one of California’s most vital artists.”

It was those skills, combined with his law enforcement experience that helped him develop successful police sketches in several high-profile cases. These include: The Samantha Runnion Abduction/Murder, the Anthony Martinez Abduction/Murder, the Baton Rouge Serial Killer, and The Orange County’ s (CA) Fortune Teller murder.

Those successes fueled Michael’s passion to become a forensic facial imaging innovator and entrepreneur.

Michael recognized law enforcement’ s need for a software-driven solution to create effective facial composites. In 2007 he founded SketchCop Solutions, Inc. and began working on what now is, SketchCop® Facial Composite System. Michael’s innovative software program addresses law enforcement’s desire to create digital facial composites while increasing the opportunity for non-artists, forensic science students and anyone else who wants to participate in the investigative process.

To support them, Michael provides training through his SketchCop® Online Academy. By combining his experience as an investigator and police sketch artist; Michael’s software program allows interested persons to put his skills to work on their PC’ s, laptop and tablet computers.

Through SketchCop® Solutions Inc., Michael continues to provide facial imaging support to law enforcement, corporations and private entities. He’s also introducing true crime fans to a unique perspective on the true crime genre while at the same time encouraging artists to pursue their passion.

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