Criminal profiling is a criminological science that identifies suspects with the help of the statistical research on the crime providing required evidence concerning this crime. Criminal profiling is intended for profiling the characteristics of the criminal and predicting their behavior. It is evident that criminal profiling is an effective tool used by the criminologists based on the psychological and social assessment. Moreover, this technique provides law enforcement with the psychological evaluation that can be better than any evidence.
In addition, suggestions and strategies of criminal profiling make the cases more transparent and easier for the investigation. Criminal profiling is the third direction of the criminological investigation that analyzes the crimes and identifies the behavioral characteristics and peculiarities of the criminal’s personality. It is especially effective when it comes to the serial crimes. This research paper intends to explain the peculiarities of the history of criminal profiling and significance of criminal profiling for law enforcement.
History of Criminal Profiling
Scientists state that the history of the criminal profiling dates back to the early 1800s when criminal anthropologists tried to draw a parallel between physical characteristics of a criminal and criminal psychology. However, criminal profiling was discovered in the1960s. It was Jacob Fries, who conducted many inquires that were related to the work of Cesare Lombroso about criminal profiling. Alphonse Bertillon, William Sheldon, Ernest Kretschmer and Ernest Hooton gave birth to the development of criminal profiling. Moreover, those scientists were interested in the responsibility and insanity as personality characteristics that helped to determine the nature of the crime. Criminal profiling is a relatively new branch of the criminology. However, its traces date back to the Middle Ages when inquisitors tried to profile witches and heretics (Canter, 2000).
Hans Gross is a significant figure that has started investigating the fields of criminal science and founded criminology in 1981. One should say that clinical criminology was also developed at that time, and it was close to applied criminology. However, clinical criminology was applied only in the study of insanity in Israel. As for criminal profiling, it is wider in its application as it is practiced in Canada, Australia, the USA and England. The history of criminal profiling is related to the name of Howard Teten, the first FBI agent, who gave the criminal profile for the FBI. He was inspired by Dr. Paul Kirk, who was a famous criminalist. The main strategy of Howard Teten was to apply psychological aspects to profiling crimes (Kocsis, 2006).
Cesare Lombroso is among the most significant criminologists studying criminal profiling. According to his “born criminal theory”, the criminality is inherited and determined according to the physical features. Lombroso believed that criminals were biologically throwbacks. Moreover, they had atavistic features. Criminal profiling involved the analysis of such features of the criminal as excessively long arms, asymmetrical face, unusually sized ears and sloping forehead. It is evident that different physical characteristics can help in identifying different types of offenders. Cesare Lombroso insists that all criminals are savages. Despite the criticism, Cesare Lombroso remains a pioneer in criminal profiling (Snook, Cullen, Bennell, Taylor, & Gendreau, 2008).
Criminal profiling was first used in New York in 1956 to solve the problem of terrorism in the city. In the 1940’s the “Mad Bomber” had terrorized this city with the help of different attacks like explosion of a bomb in a movie theatre. Consequently, Dr. Brussel who was a psychiatrist and criminologist used criminal profiling to reveal the details of the crime. In the 1940’s, criminal profiling was experimental and not a very effective method.
It does not mean that one should apply only this method. It should rather be used in a combination with some other methods. Dr. Brussel did not care about the criticism of the local authorities and used criminal profiling for creating profiles necessary for the police. The acquired information helped understand that George Metesky was a leader of the Mad Bomber (Canter, 2000).
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The Significance of Criminal Profiling for Law Enforcement
Criminal profiling is significant for law enforcement as it studies abnormal psychology and deviant mind. In the present times, law enforcement deals with all kinds of difficult cases. However, evidence is not the only thing that should be involved in the investigation. Investigation of the case from the very beginning is conducted with the help of criminal profiling that refers to the fresh crime scene. With the emergence of criminal profiling, law enforcement is moving forward in dealing with the unsolvable cases.
The significance of criminal profiling for law enforcement is related to examining criminal behaviors and attitudes to discover the causes of the crimes and the characteristics of the offender. One should mention that criminal profilers study two areas of the criminal behavior: sexual interaction with victims, and physical and verbal gestures. To create criminal profiles, one needs to know the experience, timing, location, victimology, crime scene behavior, basic psychological principles and statistics. Knowledge of this information will make law enforcement more transparent and improved as not all criminal cases require material evidence. It is also important to look for any indication of intelligence, violence and composure under stress. One should say that typology is also a must when it comes to creating a criminal profile (Kocsis, 2006).
Law enforcement is not perfect and does not evoke trust from the side of the community. It means that law enforcement can use criminal profiling as a way of gaining reliability and positive reputation. Moreover, criminal profiling can solve such problems of law enforcement as discrimination of minorities, failure of law enforcement officers, relativity of laws and regulations and the imperfection of criminal justice systems.
The strengths of criminal profiling include the fact that it is based on the following aspects:
- Demographic information;
- Autopsy and medical results;
- Theories of the investigators;
- Media release;
- Synopsis of the investigation;
- Any supplementary reports;
- Witness statements;
- Videos and photography of the crime scene;
- Diagrams and crime scene analysis;
- Forensic analysis;
- Exhibit lists.
Criminal profiling involves psychology in law enforcement as the crime rate is constantly increasing reinforcing the fact of the imperfection of the techniques used for the crime investigation. Law enforcement should not omit the psychological aspect as it is crucial when determining the differences between the ordinary people and criminals. Criminologists assess appearance, grooming, hobbies, skills, sexual orientation, sex, race and age. Moreover, signs of mental disorder or mental illness, skills, hobbies, demeanor, sexual orientation, criminal history, area of residence and occupation are also taken into account (Canter, 2000).
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The reason for the failure of law enforcement is related to the orientation towards the Stop & Frisk program that is not beneficial for the reputation of the police officers. The Stop & Frisk program pays attention to questioning pedestrians and frisking them for weapons. However, law enforcement should indeed be oriented on the criminal profiling as an objective analysis of the offender. The analysis of the psychological behavior of criminals includes evaluation of the irresistible impulses, personality traits, mental state, neuroticism and external circumstances. Defining the nature and psychology of criminals, profilers rely on the criminological theories (critical theory, classical theory, integrated theory, rational choice theory, anomie theory, differential association theory, mutually exclusive criminological system, social disorganization theory, subcultural theory and individual trait theory).
Another benefit of criminal profiling in law enforcement is providing a variety of services to criminal justice agencies and police. All these services are directed towards creating offender profiles. In most cases, police officers ignore personal traits of offenders. Consequently, the inspected cases are becoming more sophisticated. However, practicing of criminal profiling will lead to choosing better strategies for police to use such as media release, electronic interceptions and undercover operations (Snook et al., 2008).
First of all, criminal profiling is associated with interrogation and interview strategies that help define the type of crime and personality traits. Secondly, criminal profilers seek warrant strategies to conduct direct investigations and reveal the most important evidence. Moreover, they use indirect personality assessments to define the individual fitting to the crime. Thirdly, criminal profilers apply trial strategies such as jury selection, cross-examination and effective presentation of evidence. In addition, threat assessment is conducted to determine the risk posed to the society (for example, threatening with anonymous letters). Fourthly, criminal profilers use statement analysis to gain insight into the events related to the crime. Moreover, criminal profilers apply false allegations of crimes and equivocal death analysis to determine the behavioral consistency and assist investigators.
Law enforcement will remain trustless and unreliable if they rely on the broken window theory that presupposes only legislation and social determinants. However, modern criminal justice system should use more complex approaches to carrying out the crime investigation process. Criminal profiling and its psychological context represent a solution to the lawlessness of law enforcement. One should address the psychology not only regarding the aspect of criminal profiling but also as a way of treatment and analysis of the criminal behavior. One can distinguish the following psychological factors relevant to explaining the scene of the crime and its peculiarities as drug and alcohol abuse, hormones, parental relations, peer influence, discouraging the choice, heredity, brain activity and education. One should say that criminal profiling is based on the emotive aspect that encourages people to commit violent actions. Jealousy, greed, anger, revenge, pride and cruelty are the leading emotions in the context of any crime.
Criminal profiling is a must for law enforcement as it deals with such problems as racial profiling including discrimination of ethnical minorities. According to the statistics, 74.4 per cent are black state prisoners and 48.3 per cent are white state prisoners (Thomas, 2010). It means that criminal justice uses the selective enforcement refining offenders according to race, ethnicity, and social status. As for the criminal profiling, it avoids such methodology and is based only on objectivity. Moreover, law enforcement is oriented towards the stereotypes implying that when making the choice between the white and the black, the former is justified. However, criminal profiling is an objective approach to every personality.
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The objectives of criminal profilers are to determine whether the offender is a sociopath dealing with such processes as dehumanization and compartmentalization. The sociopath is a person who suffers from a disorder of character or personality rather than the mind. Consequently, such people tend to commit crimes being the objects of analysis and evaluation of criminal profilers. Compartmentalization is a psychological technique used by criminals to neutralize or overcome guilt. This process explains the reasons for applying psychology to law enforcement. It means that criminals are psychologically strong; therefore, one should explore their personal traits and behavior. Dehumanization is a capacity of people to regard others as demons or animals. It is evident that recidivists are characterized with this phenomenon.
Criminal justice and law enforcement are far from perfection due to the application of the old techniques and methods. Consequently, they demand constant improvement. Law enforcement is unable to solve the case without causing harm to people’s life. As a result, criminal profiling is necessary as an additional direction of the inspection with the help of the psychological tricks. The aim of juridical system is not to find evidence in order to solve the problem, but to punish violently without caring about justice. It means that one should take into consideration criminal profiling as a boundary between legislation and objectivity.
Criminal profiling refers to sadistic serial killers as sociopaths deprived of empathy. Consequently, such processes as dehumanization and compartmentalization allow serial killers to murder, torture, and rape with moral impunity. Consequently, criminal profilers reveal the relation of sociopathy to serial murders, explaining the process of the presentation of self, and showing the importance of compartmentalization and dehumanization including consequences of lack of empathy.
Law enforcement always presupposes danger and ethical dilemma between justification and accusation. Law enforcement requires moral behavior to a greater extent than other fields of study and also presupposes following certain ethical and moral norms. To make law enforcement better and more trustworthy one should include criminal profiling. Only psychology can explain the difference between the ordinary people and criminals. As for law enforcement, it can accuse even the innocent people of committing the crime.
- First of all, criminal profiling does not relate the term “sociopathy” only to the serial killers and other criminals as this term presupposes antisocial personality behavior characteristics that are typical for the ordinary people.
- Secondly, criminal profiling describes serial killers as skillful in the presentation of self-comparing with the ordinary people. “Even if serial killers seem to be skillful in the presentation of self, they are certainly not alone in their concern for projecting an image that is acceptable to others” (Levin & Fox, 2007, p. 5).
Law enforcement is a challenging environment that deals with many problems such as police crimes, violation of rights, excessive use of power and illegal acts. Consequently, such police behavior facilitates the creation of stereotypes across the community indicating that law enforcement is not trustworthy and reliable. As for the criminal profiling, it is able to detect police abuse of power and change it crucially through the psychological analysis.
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Criminal profilers insist that the behavior reflects personality and his/her traits.
One can distinguish four main phases of the murderer’s behavior:
- Antecedent. This phase presupposes determining of plans and fantasies of the murder before committing a crime.
- Method and manner. This phase determines the time of victims suitable for murders, methods and manners of murdering, for example, strangulation, stabbing or shooting.
- Body disposal. This phase presupposes determining the scene of the crime and time of crime committing.
- Post-offence behavior. This phase determines the reaction and attitudes of the murderer to the committed crime.
Taking into consideration these phases, it should be said that the contribution of psychology in law enforcement is enormous. Criminal profilers distinguish two ways of evaluation: offender profiling and crime action profiling. The role of criminal profiling is significant as it does not only provide address, name or phone number but also a psychological profile of the personality that is necessary for the objective investigation (Thomas, 2010).
The criminal justice system at large can make the community better. However, they should include criminal profiling as one of the method of their work. Everything has a right for existence if it is intended for making the community better. Consequently, trust, mutual cooperation, and collaboration are the necessary issues that can help change the given situation. It is evident that lack of criminal profiling in law enforcement leads to the unethical situation connected with criminal justice and race discrimination. For example, the case of Jena Six Case proves that the psychological portrait of the personality is a must in the ambiguous situations. This case was full of ethical violations such as failure to investigate the case till the end, ignoring the relevant evidence, and not taking into consideration the words of Jena Sex who was a witness of the terrible events. All existing evidence was rejected, lost, destroyed, misrepresented, and suppressed. It can be suggested that the police did everything in order to accuse Jena Six of this crime without detailed investigation.
The lack of cooperation between law enforcement and criminal profiling can cause assaults on police officers and even murders. It means that the society can become the centre of violence and cruelty. Consequently, the police and new directions in criminology should serve each other and show respect for the protection of the community. The modern world is full of crimes and evil that is why criminal justice should defend the society from these issues through cooperation and collaboration with the community. At the present time, a great number of crimes remain unpunished due to the ambiguity and lack of effective application of the necessary methods.
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In conclusion, it should be said that the history of criminal profiling is related to the Middle Ages. However, even in the present times, it is not a wide-spread tendency in law enforcement due to pay attention to the legislative and social determinants of the crime. Alphonse Bertillon, William Sheldon, Ernest Kretschmer and Ernest Hooton gave birth to the development of criminal profiling and insisted on it as a driving force of law enforcement. Consequently, criminal profiling is a significant aspect of criminal justice system and law enforcement. Criminal profiling examines criminal behaviors and discovers the causes of the crimes and the characteristics of the offender that are necessary for creating a personal and psychological portrait of the offender.
The problem of involvement of criminal profiling in law enforcement is a debatable question as criminal justice system shows its total imperfection. Consequently, the problem of creating the psychological portrait of the personality of offender is not always supported by law enforcement. The law enforcement officials feel the superiority of discriminating minorities and demonstrating disrespect with the help of the numerous cases that put them in the shade. As for criminal profiling, it is able to reveal many police crimes and offer a portrait of an ideal police officer. Moreover, criminal profiling suggests new demands to the police that should be not only protectors of safety and order but psychologists and observers.