Criminal Profiling

Welcome to Criminal Profiling

An Introduction to Behavioral Evidence Analysis


What is criminal profiling? Probably not what you think it is, at least not what you may have learned from movies and books. For this class, criminal profiling is a discipline that requires careful evaluation of physical evidence, collected and properly analyzed by a team of specialists from different areas, for the purpose of systematically reconstructing the crime scene, developing a strategy to assist in the capture of the offender, and thereafter aiding in the trial.

Profilers are not forensic psychiatrists or psychologists. Both can perform clinical interviews for the purpose of diagnosis, treatment, and courtroom competency/sanity assessment, but few are qualified to do the work of a criminal profiler. Certainly, both can contribute to the criminal profile but still they are only one member of a team. The same can be said of police officers, crime scene investigators, criminalists, sociologists, medical examiners, and detectives.

The profiler is simply another component in the criminal investigation process, they are advisors - the cops still solve the case and make the arrest. You should also keep in mind that there are several different types of profiling, the area we concern ourselves with in this class is not clinical. The focus is on weeding out suspects, developing investigative strategy, linking crimes and suspects, and assessing risk. In other words, it about catching criminals, not analyzing them.

That being said, you will be learning the techniques of socio-psychological (behavioral) and geographic profiling used to establish leads and detect patterns in unsolved cases and/or classify and predict the behavior patterns of repeat offenders, particularly serial murderers, arsonists, rapists, and child molesters.

Topics include case management, database development, typology validation, motive and pattern analysis, personality assessment, forensic demography, principles of geocoding, statistical prediction, and the ethics of provocation, and interview and interrogation strategies. Four case studies are analyzed in detail. There are a few pictures (of a graphic nature), and you are expected to demonstrate a theoretical as well as practical understanding in assignments involving writing, role-playing, simulation, and scenarios.

Be forewarned, this textbook is not for casual or marathon reading. It requires concentration and diligence. There is a redundancy throughout the text meant to clarify and reinforce important points. Don't be fooled, the chapters are brief, this allows you to assimilate the information. Also, make use of the wide margins, it is intended for note taking.

Dr. Michael Thompson

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