I’ve received many questions about profiling from readers. It seems that many people are interested in this technique and how it actually works. I can’t blame them because it’s an intriguing concept and that’s why I studied it along with my criminology.
Many years back, before television’s CSI and most weekly forensic shows, I was home with the flu watching daytime television. I came across a talk show that was interviewing FBI profiler, John Douglas. The show was mainly talking about missing and abducted children, but it was extremely fascinating. It was the first time that I had been exposed to the concept of criminal profiling and what it actually entailed.
We seem to hear the word “profiling” used in many different contexts. For the most part criminal profiling is a behavioral science and an investigative tool that helps law enforcement to find a direction for the investigation and to outline the behaviors and motivations of a particular type of suspect. It is a technique that is inferred from offender traits that include physical and/or behavioral evidence. A criminal profile is complied from the physical evidence at the crime scene, victimology, and behavioral evidence.
There are five important traits that a good criminal profiler must ALWAYS possess:
1. Analytical & Critical Thinking
3. Deductive Reasoning
John Douglas began working on the FBI’s Behavioral Science Unit (BSU) in 1977 and there he taught hostage negotiation and applied criminal psychology at the FBI Academy. He created and managed the FBI’s Criminal Profiling Program. This was literally a new method of discipline, a useful tool for the capture of serial criminals.
Douglas is most known for working with his colleague Robert Ressler as they began interviewing serial killers and other violent sex offenders at various prisons. The fictional character of Jack Crawford in the book/movie Silence of the Lambs was based on Douglas.
Criminal profiling has proved to be an effective tool when tracking down serial criminals. There has been some debate on the accuracy of this discipline. If investigators use this application to keep their investigation working in the forward direction, it will keep the integrity of the investigation intact. Sometimes law enforcement can be plagued with dead ends and lack of leads, but a criminal profile will help keep the motivation and attention in the spotlight where a new lead may be possible.
Here are some great books by John Douglas I have in my own research library that are worth checking out:
The Cases That Haunt Us
Crime Classification Manual
The Anatomy of Motive
Crime Watch Blog: www.emilystonecrimewatch.wordpress.com/
Book & Crime Talk: www.blogtalkradio.com/jennifer-chase/
Books: Compulsion = Dead Game = Silent Partner = Screenwriting