Forensic Q/A Session with a Forensic Artist!

Sandra Enslow

Ms. Enslow kindly agreed to being interviewed by Forensic Nexus to share her career path. We asked her the following questions:

What is your area of expertise/forensic discipline?

Forensic Art – facial reconstruction, age progressions, post-mortem drawings, skull reconstructions and composites, as well as law enforcement graphics for my agency.

Where do you work as a forensic scientist?

I work in Los Angeles for the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department (LASD), the largest Sheriff’s Department in the U.S.  My title is Graphic Arts Coordinator, Sheriff and I manage the Graphic Arts Unit.

There are two other Graphic Specialists (Forensic Artists,) whom I supervise. On average, I work on any where from 100-200 composites in a year, as well as crime scene drawings, 3-D models and other law enforcement related materials and projects.

What is your typical work day like?

A typical work day includes assigning projects and composite cases to staff, meeting with Detectives by phone or in person, taking on new projects/cases, meeting with witnesses for composites.   Meeting with Executives, going to the Coroner’s Office to view a body, going to a crime scene, attending press conferences and preparing for conventions and classes that I teach are also in the mix of what I do.

What inspired you to pursue this career?

It found me!  I was approached by law enforcement to come to this job and 17 years later I’m still here.  My unit has been in existence for 55 years – with many Forensic Artists having come before me.

What is your academic background?

I have a BA in commercial illustration from California State University at Los Angeles. My forensic training started with my LASD Training Officer giving me a strong core foundation in Forensic Art (FA).  Later I received FA training from Lois Gibson at Northwestern University, Center for Public Safety, and the FBI Academy at Quantico, VA. Forensic Art is not just about taking one class – continuing education is an advantage in this field.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

Going to court and testifying. Being part of the process to bring closure for a family, justice to the community and see the system work!

What suggestions do you have for students that are interested in pursuing a career in your profession?

A strong drawing background is essential – take many drawing classes and become proficient in rendering the form. Classes in the cognitive interview and psychology are also important.

Getting a job within a law enforcement and or crime lab environment is highly desirable — often the forensic artist is a collateral duty rather than a full time position.

 

Have we covered all bases? Any further questions come to mind while reading Ms. Enslow story? Please feel free to submit questions by commenting on this post and we will direct them to Ms. Enslow and post her responses.

Forensic Nexus would like to thank Ms. Enslow for her participation.

Contact us at info@forensicnexus.com for more information about mentorship.

Every Monday we will be spotlighting forensic professionals. To contribute your story, please visit here.

Till next week!

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