Criminal Investigative Analysis Research Paper

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This research paper will discuss Criminal Investigative Analysis (CIA) from an historical perspective concentrating primarily on how it began and developed in the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Behavioral Science Unit (BSU), and continues into the present day (2013) in the FBI National Center for the Analysis of Violent Crime (NCAVC), the International Criminal Investigative Analysis Fellowship (ICIAF), and the Academy Group, Inc. (AGI).

The idea of drawing personality characteristics of the criminal from an analysis of the crime scene and the behavior exhibited there had been around since before the days of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and his fictional supersleuth Sherlock Holmes (1887). More recently (1968), Dr. James A. Brussel, a New York psychiatrist, prepared a profile of the Mad Bomber for the New York City Police Department. It turned out to be amazingly accurate in the description of perpetrator George Metesky. Other early attempts to describe a criminal by the analysis of the behavior exhibited during the commission of the crime were carried out by psychologists and psychiatrists, especially those connected with the judicial process. These professionals were usually engaged by the judicial system to ascertain the mental capacity of a defendant in order to determine if he was competent to stand trial. They were trained in diagnostic and treatment skills and their language was often replete with technical terms, affording little insight to investigators about how and why the crime was committed.

The Early Days Of Profiling

The FBI’s contribution to behavioral interpretation of crime scenes began in the training division at the old post office building in the heart of Washington, D.C., in 1971. At that time, Special Agent (SA) criminologist Howard Teten, a former police officer from California, was working on the behavioral assessment of violent crime scenes in preparation for teaching classes to law enforcement officers of the FBI National Academy Program. His friend and colleague SA psychologist Patrick Mullany soon joined him in this work. The two instructors team-taught an applied criminology course to veteran law enforcement officers.

In 1972, the FBI opened the new FBI Academy complex located in the center or the United States Marine Corps Base at Quantico, Virginia. A new and more comprehensive training and educational program was instituted with courses affording college credit due to an affiliation with the University of Virginia. There were five academic units (departments) at the academy: Legal Instruction, Education and Communication Arts, Forensic Science, Management Science, and the Behavioral Science Unit (BSU).

The BSU was a multidisciplinary training unit consisting of agents with educational backgrounds in psychology, sociology, criminology, and political science. Courses were taught in subjects such as Community Relations (SSA Jack Pfaff), Urban Police Problems (SSA Larry Monroe), Crisis Management (SSA Dick Harper), Hostage Negotiation (SSAs Conrad Hassel and Tom Strentz), and the refined course of Applied Criminology that would eventually evolve into CIA. During the next few years, other members of the BSU followed the lead set by Supervisory Special Agents (SSA) Teten and Mullany and began contributing to the further development of crime scene analysis and behavioral interpretation techniques.

A Crime Epidemic In The United States

Meanwhile in the mid-1970s, violent crime had begun rising steadily in the United States, until reaching epidemic proportions in the 1980s. For example, in 1962, there were 8,404 homicides; twenty years later, there were 21,012 homicides. Homicides cleared by arrest were 93 % in 1965 and 74 % in 1982 (FBI Uniform Crime Reports). The incidence of homicide was growing by leaps and bounds, and the clearance rate (as measured by arrest) was decreasing. A relatively new phenomenon emerged called “serial murder,” a term coined by BSU SSA’s John Douglas and Robert Ressler. Serial murder was defined as three or more homicides committed over a period of time with an emotional “cooling off” period between murders (as compared to mass murder where multiple victims are killed at one time). The alarming statistics for other crimes of violence were following the homicide trend.

In an effort to deal with this epidemic of violence and decreasing clearance rates, the Attorney General of the United States, William French Smith (1981–85), ordered the directors of each federal law enforcement agency to submit to him ideas and plans for addressing this catastrophic state of affairs. Since the FBI BSU had been conducting training in violent criminal behavior since its inception, Executive Assistant Director John Otto turned to the BSU for input to plan a response to the directive.

As part of the BSU training programs, case consultation naturally evolved as law enforcement students asked questions about their unsolved cases. Officers would describe a crime, e.g., a brutal murder, and ask for the instructor’s opinion about what kind of person would commit such a crime. The instructor would speculate about the characteristics and traits of the unknown perpetrator. Instructors from different academic disciplines began to join together to contribute ideas about an unsolved violent crime from their respective disciplines and “street” experience as former field investigators. Their techniques were refined, and they soon gained a reputation for rendering valuable assistance in the analysis and solution of unsolved cases. An informal profiling program was begun.

FBI Research On Violent Criminals And Their Crimes

During classes at the FBI National Academy and during training seminars given around the country throughout the 1970s and 1980s, police students asked questions about practical aspects of cases that could not be answered by simply turning to the existing literature of criminology. Questions such as: Does the killer return to the scene of the crime and if so, why would he do that? Is the killer in the crowd when the body is found or when the crime scene is being processed? Does a killer ever insert himself into the investigation? BSU instructors recognized that answers to these and other similar questions would give investigators the ability to make predictive estimates of criminal behavior based on a fuller, deeper analysis of the crime scene and the probable mindset of the criminal perpetrator. These and other questions caused two members of the BSU, SSA’s Robert Ressler and John Douglas, to begin an informal effort to obtain some answers by going into prisons and conducting interviews of several incarcerated murderers. Convinced of the value of information obtained, they enlisted the aid of behavioral scientists (especially Dr. Ann Burgess) from major universities to design research projects and interview protocols to be used for subsequent interviews of targeted perpetrators imprisoned for having committed multiple homicides.

First, since empirical research of serial violent offenders and their crimes had never been conducted from the criminal investigator’s point of view, the initial research required the thorough examination of multiple, often horrific, crime scenes of a perpetrator in great detail prior to the prison interview. The crime scenes were carefully compared to one another, noting similarities and differences. Questions about how and why they were committed were listed.

Once the detailed examination of the offender’s crimes was completed, other documentations (i.e., pre-sentence investigation reports, mental health records, arrest histories, etc.) were studied. Agents realized that conducting interviews without this comprehensive preliminary work would be the equivalent of trying to gain insight into the mind of a great artist (Vincent Van Gogh) by interviewing him without ever looking at his actual work. The quality of a work of art made the artist a famous person of interest to the connoisseur and likewise, the details of the crime scenes made the killer an infamous person of interest to the investigator. An additional important reason for a close examination of the crimes concerned the accuracy of the information obtained from the offender during the prison interviews. Skilled investigators know that criminals are notorious liars, so a secondary benefit from the careful preliminary examinations was that the offender had more difficulty lying to interviewers about his crimes. Aristotle noted that those who wish to succeed must ask the right preliminary questions (Metaphysics II).

Secondly, researchers wanted to understand the developmental history of the perpetrator to try to determine how he became a violent offender. They wanted to gain insight into the behaviors and thought processes of the violent criminals. The protocols were developed to attain these ends. Interview protocols sought information about the subject in categories such as developmental history, health, family, education, occupation, mental health, arrest and conviction, and the forms of mental aberration. Questions concerned things such as at what age did violent fantasies begin, and at what age did the violent behavior start?

A subunit was formed in the BSU for conducting additional research and was initially led by SSA Ressler and later by SSA Richard Ault, Jr. Over a period of years, many BSU instructors went into the prisons with the comprehensive research protocols to conduct face-to-face interviews of violent criminals such as assassins, serial killers, rapists, child abductors, sexual sadists (and their wives), and, eventually, other criminals such as traitors and spies. The BSU agents sought to learn the “tradecraft,” fantasies, and habits of the perpetrators. The first interviews concerned assassins and serial killers and were initially conducted by SSAs Robert Ressler and John Douglas. SSAs Robert “Roy” Hazelwood and Kenneth Lanning conducted the initial research interviews of rapists and child abductors. Soon the research program expanded to include espionage and was supervised by SSA Richard Ault, Jr.

The three approaches that were responsible for increasing the reservoir of new knowledge in the BSU were also the three primary tasks of the BSU itself: training, case consultation, and empirical research. These functions came to be referred to as “the three-legged stool” because each approach was interdependent with the others and simultaneously reinforced by the others. Training acquired investigative ideas and questions from course attendees that could be added to research protocols. Research interviews provided insight into the mind of the criminal regarding his thought processes and behaviors before, during, and after his crime. Casework allowed a venue for the application of new knowledge to ongoing cases. These functions, in turn, created “cuttingedge” materials for training programs. The three-legged stool became the foundation for sophisticated crime analysis and interpretation of criminal behavior that was to become known as “profiling.” The profiling theory stated that behavior could be identified in the crime scene: extracted, examined, interpreted, and finally described in a profile of the unknown perpetrator.

The Profiling Process

During an investigation of an unsolved crime, the profiling process consisted of a detailed exami- nation of all available case materials and was intended to answer four questions: (1) what happened? (a listing of all significant behaviors of offender and victim); (2) how it happened? (a reconstruction of the crime with supporting evidence for each step); (3) why it happened? (the reasons for each behavior and the formation of motive); and (4) who is responsible? (the type of person who would have committed this type of crime, in this manner, for these reasons). Characteristics of a perpetrator listed in the profile might include such descriptors as approximate age, gender, race, marital status, occupation, hobbies, vehicle information, appearance and grooming, arrest history, residential information, life style, psychological features and disorders, as well as intelligence level, emotional adjustment and ability to interact socially, etc. A fifth question was added to the above four questions: Where would such a person as described in the profile be found in the environment? This question allowed for the extrapolation of behavioral information drawn from the crime to be applied to lifestyle. Answering these questions provided insights and practical suggestions to investigators, leading to a more thorough and comprehensive investigation.

Students were arriving at the FBI Academy with unsolved violent crime cases for analysis, and additional cases were being received from throughout the country and from several nations where students who had attended BSU classes resided. At this point, it became necessary to implement a procedure to systematically handle the influx of cases. Bureau case management policies were put in place. It was not long before the caseload continued to grow and the need for additional personnel became evident. But Bureau administrators wanted to evaluate the program before proceeding.

In order to ascertain the value of the profiling program, a 1981 study was undertaken by the FBI Institutional Research and Development Unit headed by SSA criminologist Howard Teten (the former BSU pioneer) who had been promoted to that specialized unit. Two hundred nine violent crime cases had been submitted by one hundred ninety-two law enforcement agencies to the BSU for analysis. They were followed upon by a survey to see if in the opinion of the case investigators, the crime analysis and subsequent profile furnished by the BSU had been helpful. These cases were primarily unsolved “old dog” cold cases where all traditional and logical investigative practices had been tried but failed to bring closure. It would have been remarkable if even 1 in a 100 of these cases were solved. As it was, the survey showed that 88 suspects had been identified largely because the profiling process had expanded and refocused the investigation. Even more remarkable was the fact that in 15 of the cases, profiling was reported to have identified a suspect outright and thereby led to the immediate solution of the cases. Needless to say, the funds necessary for expansion became available.

The FBI Investigative Profiler Program

Soon additional personnel were assigned to the unit. SSA John Douglas supervised a subunit of four “investigative profilers” brought into the BSU from the field and trained in the profiling process to work as permanent investigative profilers. The first four investigative profilers were SAs Jim Horn, Blaine “Mac” McIlwaine, Bill Hagmaier, and Ron Walker. In order to facilitate examination of cases from around the country, 55 field agents were brought back to the academy and trained in the process of case evaluation to facilitate submission of cases to the BSU. They were called “profile coordinators” and assisted in the examination and selection of cases in their divisions of the country to determine if they would likely benefit from the profiling process.

By the mid-1980s the term “profiling” took on a negative connotation (i.e., racial profiling) due to the practice of some law enforcement officers using racial discrimination to unfairly target minority persons suspected of being involved in criminal activity. In order to more accurately describe the investigative profiling process, it was renamed Criminal Investigative Analysis (CIA). CIA became the umbrella term that incorporated all of the tasks included in profiling (i.e., equivocal deaths analysis, cold case analysis, staged crimes, indirect personality assessment, planning interrogations, expert testimony in court, etc.).

A Crime Classification Manual was developed by the FBI BSU practitioners and associates in order to standardize terminology so that more accurate communication could take place within the criminal justice community. Examples of several efforts to distinguish terms from one another as well as to clarify understanding of terms commonly used came about. For example the term “modus operandi (MO)” was distinguished from “signature.” MO was described as a learned set of behaviors the offender develops and maintains because they work operationally to facilitate the efficient commission of the crime. MOs are dynamic and malleable. “Signature” was described as the offender’s “calling card” in that it was an individualized set of indicators that usually point to an offender’s personality (i.e., behaviors that are not necessary to the efficient commission of the crime, but satisfy some idiosyncratic need of the offender such as taking a souvenir from the victim). They generally do not change. “Staging” was described as purposely altering of the crime scene prior to the arrival of police in order to redirect the investigation away from the most logical suspect, or to protect the reputation of the victim and the family (i.e., removal of pornographic materials from the death scene in an autoerotic death to make it look like suicide).

FBI Police Fellowship Program

Worldwide, law enforcement investigators expressed a growing interest in learning CIA skills and the Police Fellowship Program was born. The CIA skills were too complex to be taught in a short period of time. BSU SSA Roy Hazelwood, a veteran profiler, designed a program of instruction and case analysis for high-caliber, experienced investigators who would be invited to come to the FBI Academy for 1 year to work as Fellows in the BSU. The philosophy of the program was to train officers coming from large law enforcement agencies to become CIA specialists so that they could return to their departments and establish similar CIA functions there. The program began on a trial basis with the selection of one officer (Detective Sam Bowerman of the Baltimore County, Maryland, Police Department), and was soon followed by a group of four more investigators from other large police departments (Ed Richards, Texas Department of Public Safety, Ray Pierce, New York City Police Department, Dennis Cremins, Los Angeles Police Department, and Eric Witzig, Washington D.C. Metropolitan Police). Thereafter, they were followed by groups of five to six carefully selected men and women investigators from large police agencies from the United States, Canada, Australia, and Europe. Sergeant Ron McKay of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police of Canada became the first international member of the Fellowship Program.

The attendees of the Fellowship were given 3 months of classroom instruction with classes at the academy, the University of Virginia, and the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology. For the next 3 months of training, the attendees were assigned crime scenes from solved crimes of violence and asked to apply the CIA skills they had acquired. In the last 6 months, the attendees were assigned active unsolved cases to work with veteran profilers as regular CIA members of the BSU. Gradually, the yearlong program was shortened to 6 months. After most of the pioneering BSU CIA agents had retired, the program was discontinued despite its success and popularity.

Beginning Of The International Criminal Investigative Analysis Fellowship

In 1985, the members of the first full Fellowship Program decided to form a group of investigators who had completed the Fellowship Program, a National Criminal Investigative Analysis Fellowship. In time, with the addition of attendees from other countries, the organization of diverse alumni became formalized and the International Criminal Investigative Analysis Fellowship (ICIAF) was formed. Their goals were simply stated: to maintain the ethical standards of the FBI program and to assure that the quality of the CIA process would be continued.

When the FBI Fellowship Program ended, ICIAF was well equipped to conduct their own CIA Fellowship training program, allowing for the acquisition of CIA knowledge and skills. Leadership in the organization, such as presidents Sam Bowerman and Ron McKay, developed a process for the careful selection of exceptionally qualified criminal investigators and affording them high-quality training. Conferences were held to bring together FBI and ICIAF specialists and other reputable forensic behavioral science speakers. Additionally, at regular regional and national meetings, ICIAF members invited law enforcement agencies to bring unsolved violent crime cases to the meetings where they were examined by ICIAF investigators for behavioral interpretation and profiling. ICIAF eventually expanded its purview to include a second division of CIA in order to deal with the developing field of geographic profiling.

The National Center For The Analysis Of Violent Crime

By the mid-1980s, the BSU instructors had identified other projects to be joined to their CIA work. A Community Analysis Worksheet (a community profile) was developed to assist police executives to conduct a detailed examination of their communities for planning efficient delivery of police services (SSA Roger Depue). Since profiling had been successful for identifying and dealing with individual criminals, a group analysis protocol (a group profile) was developed to assess the characteristics and dynamics of criminal groups for purposes of successful penetration and exploitation (Depue). In 1984, following a meeting of law enforcement practitioners at Sam Houston State University, a Violent Criminal Apprehension Program (VICAP) created to track unsolved homicides and to link them to solved and unsolved cases from different jurisdictions (the idea of former LAPD homicide detective Pierce Brooks was added to the BSU). Among the first members of the VICAP team joining Pierce Brooks were investigators from police departments around the country, including Terry Green of Oakland, California; Ken Hanflan of Salem, Oregon; Jim Howlett of Charlotte, North Carolina; and Winston Norman of the Washington Metropolitan Police Department (who was an FBI BSU instructor following his retirement from the police department). The computerized Arson Information Management (AIM) system developed by Dr. David Icove was brought to the BSU, and the first attempt to use artificial intelligence to augment profiling was made with use of a VAX 11-785 state-of-the-art computer. BSU CIA investigators observed that officers working extremely violent cases often developed personal problems themselves. Because of that fact, an innovative program eventually entitled Stress Management in Law Enforcement (SMILE) was developed by BSU SSA instructors (John Mindermann, James Reese, Robert Schaefer, and James Horn) to address these concerns. An effort to project crime trends into the future was developed by SSA Bill Tafoya. SSAs Terry Ethridge, Tom O’Maley, and Joe Harpold developed innovative crime prevention strategies and added them to the BSU repertoire.

Assistant Director Jim McKenzie and his deputy, Dr. Jim O’Connor, cleared the way to bring all of the programs under one roof, as the BSU was gradually becoming a national center for the analysis of violent crime. The BSU was divided into two separate entities, one specializing in training and research (Depue) and the other in investigative support (SSA Alan “Smokey” Burgess). The original BSU had grown from 12 to 55 members. The national recognition of the innovative and important work of the BSU came in 1984 when President Ronald Reagan, speaking at the National Sheriff’s Association Annual Conference in Hartford, Connecticut, announced the institution of the FBI National Center for the Analysis of Violent Crime (NCAVC) to be located at the FBI Academy at Quantico, Virginia. Its mission was to address unusual, vicious, bizarre, or repetitive violent crimes. Roger Depue, long-time chief and member of the BSU, was made its first administrator.

Additional field agents from around the country were brought back to Quantico to work as CIA specialists in the NCAVC, and others were given a 2 week training in-service in CIA fundamentals so that they could function as CIA coordinators (previously called profile coordinators) between Quantico, FBI field offices, and law enforcement agencies within their areas. CIA work was separated into specialized units involving different crimes of violence. The United States was divided into geographic regions, with NCAVC CIA agents providing oversight and direction to the FBI CIA coordinators and law enforcement investigators in the regions. During the 1990s, the FBI NCAVC grew in size, became a field office support resource, and moved offsite from Quantico to neighboring Aquia, Virginia. Eventually, the NCAVC was joined to other operational functions from the FBI Academy (e.g., the Hostage Rescue Team, Special Operations, Conflict Management, and Hostage Negotiation) and the entire operation became a separate FBI entity placed under the mantle of the new investigative support group called the Critical Incident Response Group (CIRG).

Expansion Into The Private Sector

In 1989, retired BSU chief Dr. Roger Depue consulted with Dr. Bertram Brown (former Director to the United States National Institute of Mental Health and White House psychiatrist) and Conrad Hassel, Esquire, (retired chief of FBI Special Operations and Research) about the feasibility of starting a center for CIA to assist private sector organizations in dealing with problems caused by aberrant and violent behavior. Shortly thereafter, The Academy Group, Inc. (AGI) was begun as the first forensic behavioral sciences services company to bring CIA expertise to the private sector. AGI practitioners began to apply profiling techniques to the problems of violence in workplaces and schools, authorial attribution of anonymous communications, expert behavioral analysis and testimony in a wide variety of civil cases, and the analysis of criminal cases when requested by security and law enforcement agencies. Many veteran agents retiring from the NCAVC joined their colleagues at AGI such as CIA practitioners Peter Smerick (current Chairman of the Board) and R. Stephen Mardigian (current President), and Michael Napier, an interview and interrogation specialist. Fellowship alumni also joined AGI to continue doing CIA work such as Ken Baker, United States Secret Service, and Larry McCann, Virginia State Police. AGI located in Manassas, Virginia, allowed for continued contact with the FBI BSU and NCAVC.

Work Of The Critical Incident Response Group NCAVC

Meanwhile back at the FBI during the early 2000s, the CIA units of the CIRG NCAVC were named Behavioral Analysis Units (BAU) and four of these units were designated each with separate responsibilities. BAU 1 contained SSA’s specializing in threat assessment, especially in the analysis of written documents. Linguist SSA Jim Fitzgerald (who joined AGI following his retirement) led the field in this important work. This unit dealt with the threatening communications that often preceded or accompanied dangerous acts. Writing is a form of behavior that can be analyzed to reveal personality characteristics of the writer. Communications that are anonymous can be examined as to writing style and content and often afford important clues as to the identity of the unknown authorship.

BAU 2 specialized in violent crimes against adult victims. Most violent crimes fall into this category. Both the victims and perpetrators are adults. Also in this category there was a good deal of concentration on crimes against the other most vulnerable victims in society, the elderly (as developed by SSA Mark Safarik, Dr. John Jarvis and Dr. Kathleen Nussbaum).

BAU 3 was exclusively dedicated to crimes against children. Both adult and child perpetrators prey on children. This unit works closely with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. It is noted that BAU’s 2 and 3 continue the work against serial murderers originally begun in the BSU of the 1980s.

BAU 4 deals with counterterrorism. Since 2001 and the terrorist attack of the World Trade Center in New York City, much emphasis and many resources have been directed toward this most serious problem. These NCAVC BAUs continue their CIA work until the present time (2013).

Meanwhile at the FBI Academy BSU, SSA Andy Bringuel instituted the Terrorist Research Analysis Project (TRAP) expanding the “group profiling” concept to a more comprehensive Group Analysis Protocol that improved understanding of foreign and domestic terrorist groups.

ICIAF Understudy Program

Under the leadership of presidents such as Ron McKay, Kate Lines, Steven Conlon, and Keith Howard (2013), the ICIAF continued to identify, select, and train new investigators from around the world in the art and science of CIA. An Understudy Program has been created whereby applicants are vetted and trained by qualified ICIAF CIA practitioners. The process includes nomination and interview of a candidate, practicum of case assessments, reading requirements, video and audio reviews and analyses, academic and field practice exercises, examinations, review of analytical notes and reports, and final individual candidate screening board interviews.

In 2001, the geographic profilers originally trained by the Vancouver Police Department (VPD), Canada, became part of the ICIAF (information provided by ICIAF Geographic Profiling Division members). They formed a separate Geographic Profiling Division with its own vice president, and eventually adopted the Geographic Understudy Program developed by VPD in 1997. The program was designed to provide comprehensive training to members of those agencies wishing to establish their own geographic profiling capability. Suitable candidates embark upon a year of study under the tutelage of a mentor who must be a fully qualified geographic profiler. The training program is divided into four blocks: (1) probability and the Rigel software; (2) serial crime and crime linkage; (3) violent sex offenders and criminal profiling; and (4) quantitative spatial techniques and geographic profiling.

The first three blocks are done through distance education, under the supervision of the understudy’s mentor. The fourth block (four months) is a residency at the mentor’s agency, involving both reviews of previous files and casework in active investigations. The understudy must pass a qualifying examination at the end of the training period in order to successfully conclude the program. Continuing education is important for the ongoing development of professional skills and expertise, and the ICIAF community, listserv, and conferences play a key role in this process. Geographic profilers from Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, and The Netherlands are now members of the Fellowship, and they have worked on serial crime cases from around the world.

As a result, ICIAF membership continues to grow in size and sophistication (2013).

Response To Negative Critiques Of Profiling

Profiling may mean different things to different people. As reported above, the FBI had an in-house research capability, the Institutional Research and Development Unit (IRDU), to look at programs to determine if they were cost effective and whether or not they should be continued. The definition of profiling as set forth by the IRDU was: “As used in this study psychological profiling is defined as the process of identifying the gross psychological characteristics of an individual based on an analysis of the crime(s) he or she committed and providing a general description of the person utilizing those traits.”

In 1981 the FBI IRDU did “a cost benefit study to determine the extent to which the service has been of value to the users.” The service (profiling) was provided by special agent behavioral science investigators who were instructors at the FBI Academy (the profilers). The service was provided to the users (primarily police investigators) at their request because the crimes (primarily murder) apparently could not be solved by conventional investigative methods. From a practical standpoint FBI management was interested in whether or not the police investigators thought the service was valuable to them and should be continued to be provided by the FBI.

It should be pointed out at this time that the profiling process would have been discontinued if it was not demonstrated to have been of value to the users.

Questionnaires were distributed to 192 law enforcement agencies regarding the 209 cases that had been analyzed and profiles of unknown offenders had been prepared for them. Results revealed that in 88 cases suspect(s) had been identified and the law enforcement investigators (users) reported that the profiles assisted in focusing the investigation properly and had helped in locating possible suspects in the majority of cases. In 15 cases they reported that the profile actually identified a suspect. Needless to say the profiling program was continued.

In the FBI profiling was developed by the examination of numerous cases, analysis of the crime scenes and by identifying the behavior therein. Agents became adept at identifying the behaviors and constructing profiles of the unknown offenders. Research projects were conducted whereby agents interviewed offenders following a thorough review of crimes perpetrated by these offenders in order to gain insight into the thought processes operating in the offenders before the crime, during the crime, and after the crimes were committed.

This empirical research contributed to the profiling process being refined and expanded. The FBI then brought outstanding investigators from federal, state and local law enforcement agencies into the FBI Academy for an intensive Fellowship Program where the process and techniques discovered by the agents were shared with them.

Since that time many people have claimed to be “profilers” without working with law enforcement, and without doing the meticulous work of carefully examining numerous cases and crime scenes, and without getting feedback on the value of their efforts. Furthermore they have not analyzed large numbers of cases and crime scenes of known perpetrators and then gone into the prisons to interview these offenders in order to gain an in-depth understanding of their criminal behavior.

Now “research efforts” aimed at determining the value of “profiling” are being conducted by behavioral scientists and academics. The results of this research often cast doubts on the “profiling” process studied.

From the practitioner perspective, the one true method of determining the value of profiling is to ask the users of the profiling process whether or not it was helpful to them in solving crimes. If it is not, that profiling process should be discontinued. (The information quoted in the IRDU study is from an internal document of the FBI entitled “EVALUATION OF THE PSYCHOLOGICAL PROFILING PROGRAM” and reported by the Institutional Research and Development Unit of the FBI Academy, Quantico, Virginia in December of 1981).


It would be an understatement to say that CIA has caught the imagination of the media and entertainment industry. People are fascinated by the subject and crave information about how the process is done and examples of its effectiveness. The first fiction author to spend time at the FBI academy and the BSU researching cases and trying to gain insight into the profiling process and the mind of the serial killer was Thomas Harris (1982). His best-selling book Red Dragon created national interest in the BSU. His next best-selling book Silence of the Lambs and the subsequent movies about serial killer Hannibal Lector and FBI Special Agent Clarice Starling brought international attention to the BSU and the NCAVC. Media interests abounded. Additional books, magazines, television programs, movies, and games proliferated and have increasingly become available for public consumption. As with the box office success of the film Top Gun when there was a groundswell of young men and women eager to become the next generation of fighter pilots, young students of behavioral sciences and criminal justice aspire to become the next wave of CIA practitioners.

Today worldwide, more and more perpetrators of violent crime are being identified, apprehended, prosecuted, and incarcerated earlier in their criminal careers. In the United States, the violent crime rate has dropped significantly and much of it must be attributed to CIA skills. It is largely due to a community of astute investigators with impressive CIA knowledge and skills who are conducting more proficient crime analysis, behavioral interpretation, and construction of accurate profiles of unknown dangerous offenders. These CIA skills have increased the sophistication and professionalism of investigators of violent crime in their struggle to assure that a higher level of security and justice is being achieved for the citizens of their respective communities.


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  13. Ressler RK, Shachtman T (1997) I have lived in the monster. St. Martin’s Press, New York
  14. Ressler RK, Douglas J, Burgess A (1988) Sexual homicide: patterns and motives. Lexington Books, New York

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