Edit ModuleShow Tags

On the Job: Meet SDPD's Own Sketch Artist

Gary Bowen's artistic talents help catch the bad guys


Published:

Photo by Robert Benson

Gary Bowen

Age: 45
Organization: San Diego Police Department
Job: Police officer and composite sketch artist

Gary Bowen’s composite of a Chula Vista resident was all over the news after the May 2016 Balboa Park rape case in which a mother was kidnapped and assaulted multiple times. One witness and a previous victim both recognized the composite, and the suspect was turned in immediately.

Bowen has worked in law enforcement since 1998, but always had a love of drawing and cartooning. He put himself through a training and certification program and, since 2012, has been the only composite sketch artist on the force. “I do the job for the victims and the public. I feel I’ve been blessed with a skill that helps me catch the bad guys.”

If the witness has trouble describing the suspect’s face, Bowen turns to a book called Steinberg’s Facial Identification Catalog, which has images of thousands of different noses, eyes, and mouths. “We play a really advanced version of Mr. Potato Head.”

He says he’s amazed at what people can remember under such stressful circumstances. “I’ve had people see the picture and just completely freak out and start crying. It’s terrible. You have to have a box of tissues waiting. Others are very determined. It’s a really weird, emotional thing I witness.”

Bowen works with all the major crime units—homicide, robberies, sex crimes, home invasions, and assaults. He has also made sketches for the NYPD, Honolulu PD, NCIS, FBI, and other agencies whose witness or suspect has traveled to the area. When he’s off-duty, Bowen has a word-of-mouth side business drawing dog portraits.

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

More »Related Stories

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Shows Off His Storytelling Skills at PLNU

The athlete turned author will share stories from on and off the court during this month’s Writer’s Symposium by the Sea

Celebrating Women: Joyce Glazer

The San Diego Magazine columnist and publication director of the Charitable Giving Guide leaves a sterling legacy

Shop Like a Tastemaker with Chrissy Powers

The therapist slash blogger shares her favorite things
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Most Popular

  1. San Diego Magazine's Travel Awards 2018
    Cast your vote now for your favorite hotels, travel companies, and attractions
  2. First Look: Cloak & Petal
    The owners of Tajima bring Japanese small plates to Little Italy with Cloak & Petal
  3. 15 Coolest Jobs in San Diego and How to Get Them
    We asked 15 San Diego professionals with the coolest jobs in town how they landed their gigs—and how we could steal them
  4. Your Guide to San Diego's Best Happy Hours
    Here's where to throw back a cold one while the sun's still out
  5. First Look: Bivouac Ciderworks
    A new craft cidery opens in North Park, designed for the outdoors person in all of us
  6. Green Rush: Inside San Diego's Emerging Cannabis Industry
    Marijuana's legal. How did it go from evil death drug to medical miracle and billion-dollar industry?
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Promotions

Go Ahead... Ask McMillin!

At McMillin Realty, we are encouraging you to bring us your real estate questions. We will answer these questions….. for free.

Not Your Grandma's Orthotics

New year, new – shoe? Staying on your feet for long hours at a time just got a whole lot more comfortable with Wiivv’s BASE custom insoles
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module
Edit Module

Connect With Us:

Edit ModuleShow Tags

Sponsored

Enter a Drawing You Could Actually Win

There are more than 1,700 prizes in the Dream House Raffle

Buy a Raffle Ticket, Win This Rare Sports Car

Donate to a good cause to seriously upgrade your ride
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags