Introduction Criminal profiling is a crime-fighting tool that has been in use ever since the nineteenth century. The method became popular after attracting a lot of media attention especially in the television industry. There is a need to examine the intricacies involved in this profession, the training required, job expectations and controversies about the issue. By analyzing the latter issues, one can come up with a conclusion on whether criminal profiling is a viable tool in criminal investigations. (Campbell, 2004) Key Concepts and contributions.
There are many groups identified with the criminal profiling subspecialty, however, the most notable amongst them is the FBI. While many people assume that members of the latter organization were the key creators of this professional subspecialty, other historical contributors made criminal profiling what it is today. These individuals were responsible for creating some of the common techniques used in the investigative process. The most notable name in the field was Thomas Bond. Bond was a surgeon who lived in the decade 1880. At that time, a serial rapist known as Jack the ripper had terrorized his city.
Bond established some routines to identify the rapist and these routines are still applicable today. The surgeon tried to reconstruct the crime scene through use of materials available there. Through the reconstruction, he realized that the sheets used to wrap a victim had too much blood on one side thus concluding that the rapist used this to wrap the victim. Additionally, he analyzed the nature of the wound on the victims and realized that there was a pattern. Bond established the concept of behavioral analysis in criminal profiling.
This involves linking a certain criminal pattern to a specific individual after analyzing a number of crimes. (Winerman, 2004) Another notable figure in criminal profiling is the psychiatrist Walter Langer. Langer was hired during the Second World War when the world was deeply disturbed by Adolph Hitler. His clients wanted him to demystify this dictator. The psychiatrist was able to establish Hitler’s motivation and even predicted what would happen if Hitler lost the war or was captured. Langer set the precedence for what is now identified as war profiling.
A similar concept was used during the Vietnam and Gulf wars. Lastly, psychiatrist James Brussels is also another important historical figure. At this time, New York City had been terrorized by a bomber for eight years on end. This criminal would plant bombs in strategic locations and detonate them. He used information from letters, photos and other description to come up with a very accurate profile of the bomber. As matter of fact, the accuracy of this profile is still unmatched today. Brussels established that the criminal would be living with his mother, had paranoia and lived in Connecticut.
These predictions were quite true and they allowed the police to catch him. (Crime Library, 2007) Roles and training Criminal profiling (also known as criminal investigative analysis, investigative psychology) is a professional subspecialty in the field of criminal investigation. It is a combination of two important principles; investigative science and psychology. Criminal investigators need to determine the physical and psychological traits of criminals or suspects and criminal profiling is the tool used to achieve this.
Here, profilers perform an analysis of the crime scene, information obtained from witnesses or from victims in order to come up with an accurate description of the assailant. There are a number of physical attributes commonly used in criminal profiling and they include; • Race • Sex • Residential or personal location • Marital status etc On the other hand, some of the traits used in psychological analysis of criminals include; their personality attributes, psychological tendencies and behavioral aspects.
Criminal profiling is a very interesting field of study because it involves collaboration between two professions, that is, criminologists or law enforcers who normally deal with the intricacies of particular case and psychologists who use deductive techniques to gain information about a particular suspect or to track a criminal on the run. (Kocsis, 2006) Criminal profiling may be taken as a subsection of another course such as psychology. Forensic psychology falls under the former mentioned course and provides graduates with a chance of merging criminal justice system principles with mental health concepts.
Forensic psychologists may be employed in the criminal justice system to provide court testimonies, help out law enforcers, do psychological profiling and also social services. Many court cases utilize forensic psychologist as expert witnesses. They may be used to establish some facts about the characteristics of a suspect. On the other hand, forensic psychologists may be used in conducting risk assessment. Besides this, they may create profiles of perpetrators in the criminology department. These are some of the areas of application of this subspecialty. Assessment and evaluation
The process of criminal profiling has changed a lot since its humble beginnings in the nineteenth century. There are a number of procedures used in the field, however, most profilers (including the Federal Bureau of Investigation) agree that it is best done through four major phases; 1. Antecedent 2. Manner and method 3. Body disposal phase 4. Post offense behavior The antecedent phase is the first step in criminal profiling. Here, investigators or criminologists normally try to read through the mind of the offender. They try establishing the reasons behind the offense, the motives for choosing a particular location or day.
The manner-and-method phase involves an analysis or description of the method used in committing the crime. For instance, the profilers may establish that the suspect used a knife or he used a gun. This stage allows investigators to create a link between the technical aspects of the crime and the motive behind the crime. The third phase; Body disposal, involves an analysis of how the offender got rid of the body if the crime under investigation is a murder. There are instances when criminals dispose bodies in a particular area or where they decide to use several locations.
The post offense phase involves analyzing the criminal’s behavior after committing the crime. Sometimes, the criminal may choose to contact the police directly through mail or through phone calls. Alternatively, some criminals chose to involve a third party such as the media. All these sources can be instrumental in determining a criminal’s future move. (Campbell, 2004) Criminologists assert that these four phases lead to two categories of criminals i. e. the organized and the disorganized criminals. However, there have been numerous disagreements about the validity of such an approach.
Psychologists assert that almost all types of criminals depict a certain level of organization. For instance, the manner of body disposal or the way the assailant attacks his victims in case of a murder indicates that the criminal was organized. Psychologists believe that the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s methods have no scientific basis. This is because the FBI normally rely on behavioral patterns established in the past. Most FBI investigators rely on their experience in the force instead of examining empirical evidence specific to each reported crime. Psychologists have conducted a lot of research in criminal profiling of rape cases.
They assert that each crime has peculiar characteristics that cannot be applied in other crimes. Consequently, psychologists believe that criminal profiling in arson should not be related to criminal profiling in robbery or burglary. Each crime should be investigated by conducting numerous case studies and then a dependable pattern established. (Dan, 2005) Areas of research and reference There are relatively few criminal profiling jobs in the country. Some experts estimate it at less than one hundred per year. Additionally, there are very few graduate programs that offer such training.
As a result, most profilers are Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agents rather than psychologists yet the latter profession is a key area here. The reason why criminal profiling jobs are quite few is that the method cannot be applied to in all crime scenarios. As matter of fact, the method is best suited to serial bombing and arson attacks. Additionally, it is possible that profiling can result in inclusion of wrong profiles. Additionally, the method does not employ the use of research. This means that there are fewer participants used or there is very little experimentation employed.
This is probably the reason why most criminal profiling cases fail in identification of assailants. Statistics show that only two point seven percent of criminal profiling cases actually lead to actual identification of the offender. The methods used in criminal profiling have been the object of debate over the past years. For instance, criminologists are particularly fond of the irrelevant and relevant test. Here, suspects are subjected to some questioning procedures where they are expected to tackles issues related to the crime (through the relevant questions) and answer innocuous questions (denoted by the irrelevant questions).
This method is one of the most widely used in the profession. However, there are some underlying assumptions, the approach assumes that criminals will give emotional responses when asked questions relevant to the crime while innocent suspects will not denote emotional responses. Additionally, the approach assumes that irrelevant questions will not create any form of response from the suspects. However, this is not always true as some individuals may react to relevant questions even when they are not guilty of the crime. (Crime Library, 2007) Another common method utilized in criminal profiling is the polygraph test.
This test makes the assumption that criminals who respond to questions honestly, will indicate this through physical responses. However, some criminals may suppress any form of physical activity, some criminals also have the ability to suppress their physiological responses hence resulting in inclusive or inaccurate results. The field of criminal profiling has also generated some controversies about FBI methods and scientific empirical methods. In response to these controversies, some psychologist have decided to conduct research for the FBI such as PHD holder Anthony Pinizotto.
He is doing some work on the relationship between sexual offenses and burglaries. His group is trying to form a link between crime scenes that started out as robberies and then because sexual assaults. The Group’s book is called ‘Sex Offender La report’ and is due for publishing soon. (Crime Library, 2007) Conclusion Criminal profiling is a crime fighting tool that employs behavioral and psychical trait to profile suspects. Some investigations have led to identification of suspects. However, there are times when this may not succeed. The field has solicited a lot of controversy due to the tactics utilized.
However, some researchers such as Dr. Pinizotto of the FBI are working on these differences through research programs. Reference: Crime Library (2007): Criminal Profiling; retrieved from http://www. crimelibrary. com/about/authors/petherick/index. html accessed on 21st January 2008 Campbell, H. (2004): Leading Investigators Take you inside the criminal mind; Rout ledge publishers Winerman Lea (2004): Criminal Profiling: the reality behind the myth; Monitor on Psychology vol. 35, no. 7 Kocsis, R. N. (2006): Criminal Profiling – Principles and Practice. Totowa, Humana Press Dan, K. (2005): The Art of Profiling; Melbourne Publishers