She is an artist whose work is best known because the subjects don't want it seen.

Ellen Brown is the longtime sketch artist for the Bellingham Police Department.

Over the past 17 years, she has drawn nearly 100 composites for detectives, helping them catch countless criminals.

"We just sit with a pencil and paper and lots of erasers," Brown says. "I just trust what they see."

The sketches start with templates of faces from a book.

"I think Al Capone is in the book," says Brown. "There are some pretty famous bad guys in there but there are no bad women. So, we have to feminize the features."

Within moments images emerge from a blank piece of paper. They're often images no one wants to see.

"The rapes are really tough. Often the victim is coming directly from the hospital. Hopefully, they're going to put a lot of their pain on this piece of paper and they won't have to carry it around in their heads."

Bellingham Police Detective Sue Howell says Brown draws from a deep well of compassion.

She cites a 2016 case where Brown helped convict a man for sexually assaulting a special needs woman.

"I remember bringing this victim in and she didn't know how much she could remember. After two hours we had the sketch. I don't think it would have been solved without Ellen."

Brown's years of service were recently recognized by Bellingham's Chief of Police with a Citizen Commendation. She says her real reward, though, is helping make Bellingham a safer place.

"I'm helping my community. It feels really good."