Sketchcop: Drawing a Line Against Crime –
Michael W. Streed – 2016 – True Crime Memoir
Orange Police Sergeant (Ret.) Michael W. Streed is “The SketchCop.” He’s a one-of-a-kind crime fighter who’s frequently called into action by police departments seeking help solving their most difficult cases.
For over three decades, Michael has provided signature images for the country’s most notorious murders, rapes, and kidnappings, including the kidnapping and murder of five-year-old Samantha Runnion, as well as the Baton Rouge Serial Killer.
The SketchCop has fought crime, coast-to-coast, from Los Angeles to Baltimore, Salt Lake City to Baton Rouge. Along the way, he has papered the walls of police squad rooms with sketches of their city’s most dangerous criminals.
In this collection of true crime stories, Michael shares cases from his own portfolio. He describes how he connects with, and empowers, courageous victims and eyewitnesses, from all walks of life. Using their descriptions, the author creates life-like sketches of the assailants with an accuracy that has led to quick identifications and captures.
This was an interesting book about Streed’s life as a sketch artist for the American police. I first heard about it in an interview on the Generation Why podcast a couple of years ago, and it sounded intriguing. There is a lot of information in the book about the work Streed does as a sketch artist, as well as some of the more “well-known” cases he has worked on. If you are interested in American true crime it’s a worthwhile read and it definitely teaches you about the development of e-fit technology.
It was difficult to read this book as an international reader at times because I didn’t understand many of the references. There were some cases that the author stated as being very famous which even as a true crime fan I needed more background on. Other times he would state places and we were expected to understand where they were, and although I realise this book is targeted to US audiences, in the cases where location was particularly important I think a couple of sentences to set the scene could have been useful.
It’s interesting to read about this subject about US police officers at the moment though, because of books such as The Hate U Give bringing to light some of the more negative aspects of policing over there. Sketchcop talks about profiling and there is an instance of an officer arresting a black man who turned out to be innocent. This is brushed off though, and it wasn’t really the reason for the book, but it did get me thinking.
I gave this book 3/5 on Goodreads. I’m not sure if I’d recommend this book, even as a true crime fan, because although it had some interesting points, there was a lot of repetition which slowed the pace.
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