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Bronze bust of Judge Giovanni Falcone located at the F.B.I. academy in Quantico,Va.
This art work was done by Myke Taister of the F.B.I. Graphic Unit in honour of the Judge Falcone's unwavering courage in the face of his Sicilian Mafia adversaries

 

 

F.B.I. Artists

   The Investigative and Prosecutive Graphics Unit is an elite group of artistic "G-Men" (or actually "G-Persons) that provide an invaluable service to the Federal Bureau of Investigation and its mission to keep America safe and crime free. The Unit plans, designs, coordinates, and produces investigative aids and demonstrative evidence in support of F.B.I. investigations.

This support is provided in four general areas:
I. Crime scene survey and documentation
II. Forensic facial imaging
III. Demonstrative evidence
IV. Administrative support.

 

   The founder of this unit, now retired Horace Heafner, started in fingerprints, prior to moving into the cartographer's unit in the 1950's. Horace stated that the real start of the graphics unit was in 1956 when J Edgar Hoover requested that he create a flier to hand out to children nation wide warning them not to accept rides from strangers. This was in response to a rash of kidnappings in the U.S. The flier was made in a coloring book fashion and was widely distributed.

 

 

   During the fifties, communism was the F.B.I.'s top priority. Agents were used extensively to track and document Russian spies within the U.S. borders. Facial recognition techniques were used to mentally "photograph" faces in situations in which photographic equipment could not be used. Composite drawings were made of major spies and espionage agents during the cold war.

   The graphics unit was often assigned the task of creating crime scene models to scale. An early example of this was the model created in Jan 1950 in Boston, Mass after the famous Brinks Robbery. Both Judges and prosecutors were at first reluctant to bring models into the courts, but it was soon understood that visual items were a powerful tool. These models provided the jury with valuable insight and understanding.

   When our great republic's 35th president, John F. Kennedy, was assassinated on 22 Nov. 1963, the graphic's unit was sent to Dallas to create a model of the city blocks where the crime occurred. This model, which was built to scale using thousands of measurements, greatly assisted the Warren Commission in the course of its investigation.

 

 

 

   When Martin Luther King was assassinated in Burmingham, Alabama, on April 4, 1968, the F.B.I.'s artists were sent immediately to the crime scene to create yet another important investigative model. J. Edgar Hoover made this a top priority investigation and assigned all available agents to work this job. Hoarce Heafner interviewed a gun shop owner who sold a rifle with a scope to a man with "steely blu" eyes. The eyes were the only solid description given. James Earl Ray rented a room in a flop house and shot King out of a bathroom window there. Two prints were found on the rifle, which was discovered where Ray dumped it. Ray fled first to Canada, then to the United Kingdom, where he was arrested by Scotland Yards.

 

 

 

   Around the same time period that the Feds were developing their graphics unit, a similar unit in the N.Y.P.D. was simultaneously being formed. The two units, which were forming independently of one another, eventually cooperated in many ways and shared techniques and info.

 

 

 

   In 1971, a man known only as "DB" Cooper hijacked a 727 and demanded a parachute and $200,000. DB jumped out of the rear of this plane somewhere over Washington or Oregon. The unit did a composite of this hijacker, who was never heard from again.

 

 

 

   In 1984, the F.B.I. started training law enforcement officer's from around the world in forensic art. Two classes a year are given at the F.B.I. academy in Quantico, Va., where these sworn officers are trained in composite drawing, facial reconstruction (both 2-d and 3-d), the aging of suspects images, memory retrieval techniques and cognitive interview.


Forensic Artist Patrick Simmons of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police


3-D Facial Reconstruction


Aging Process

 

 

 

   Today the graphics unit plays a vital role in the war on terror. The units experts are flown all over the world (where ever an American citizen or interest is attacked) to do composite drawings, as well as models of crime scenes. They have earned a proud place in the annals of American law enforcement history.