Drawing On Memory

By: Lauri Martin Email
By: Lauri Martin Email

If you saw a crime and were the only witness, would you know what to look for? KKTV 11 News put it to the test.

I met Bill Kirkley on the street. He’s not a criminal, but he agreed to be part of our experiment. I looked at him for about 30 seconds and with that memory in mind, I met up with Colorado Springs Police Officer Joe Bonomo. He's an FBI certified forensic artist and has been putting faces to crime for two decades.

The first question he asked, "If you saw this person again, would you recognize him?" I told him, “Absolutely.”

After about 30 minutes of questioning about the guy I saw, he put his pencil to pad. All he has to work with is what I tell him.

"People communicate in different ways. They access information in different ways. They store things in different ways. That's my job is to get to where they're putting information and retrieve it. I'm not a scientist, I’m not a doctor and I’m not a psychologist, but I do have the knowledge through training and experience on how to do this."

As he sketched, Officer Bonomo gave me a book that was full of faces, eyes, ears and noses. They were in all shapes and sizes. "We're playing with both recognition and recollection."

I tried to pick out features that most closely resemble my memory of the man I met on the street.

After about two hours, the sketch was finished. “No one can say when you actually meet the person and compare, no one can say that this is definitely that person. Is there a resemblance? Yes. Is there a thread of info that would bring case further? Yes."

Officer Bonomo has advice for all of us: if you see a crime, take a look at the suspect's features that can't easily be changed like eyes, nose, face and obvious tattoos.

Bonomo also said to notice the world around you and be aware.

Sketches are not meant to be a snapshot of the suspect, but a resemblance. They are only as good as the witness. It's just another tool for cops to develop leads on a case..

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