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Who Are Criminal Profilers?

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Who Are Criminal Profilers?
Rebecca Wiltshire
Colby-Sawyer College

Criminal profilers mix both the world of psychology with criminal justice. The field itself is fairly new and often time’s profilers don't always agree on methodology or even terminology. The term "profiling" is popular among the public because of media interoperations such as “The Silence of the Lambs” and “Criminal Minds”. However the FBI calls its form of profiling “criminal investigative analysis”; another profiler, a prominent forensic psychologist, calls his work “investigative psychology”; and another calls his “crime action profiling” only further proving the lack of agreement in terminology (8). Often a criminal profiler is thought to be a perceptive unknown or an unconventional intellectual who can solve crimes by trusting a combination of intuition and strong insight into the criminal mind (9). Criminal profiling is a method used by criminal investigators to develop profiles for murders, rapists, and other violent criminals who haven't been arrested yet (4). Profilers rely on perceptive trail and error to predict others’ behavior. They use the growing knowledge from psychiatry, psychology, criminology, and sociology, and utilize each in the field of criminal profiling. (3)
Like in every job, criminal profilers have specific responsibilities that their job entails. It is a world of investigation and research impacted by inductive and deductive reasoning, crime-solving experience and knowledge of criminal behavior, facts, and statistical probabilities (1). Profilers are there to help investigators examine evidence from crime scenes and victim and witness reports to develop an offender description including psychological variables such as personality traits, psychopathologies and behavior patterns, as well as demographic variables such as age, race or geographic location. Investigators might use profiling to thin down a field of suspects or figure out how to interrogate a suspect already in custody (8 & 6). Criminal profilers will use a range of different methods and techniques such as trying to figure out the murderer/criminal’s antecedent or plan. What did the murderer have in place before the act? What triggered the murderer to act some days and not others? Profilers will examine the method, manner and how the body was disposed. What type of victim or victims did the murderer select? What was the method and manner of murder? Did the murder and body disposal take place all at one scene, or multiple scenes? After the crime criminal profilers also must look at the post-offense behavior of the criminal. Is the murderer trying to involve himself in the investigation by reacting to media reports or communicating with investigators (8)? Criminal profiling also lends a hand to predictive policing. Predictive policing uses information from pervious crimes; such as intent, location, type of crime and genetic predispositions; to predict when a crime is likely to happen, where is could take place and the kinds of people involved (7 & 2). Predictive policing involves using analytical software developed to analyze each crime by time of day, day of the week and day of the month. Crime locations are analyzed by street address, as well as closeness to places such as ATMs, parks and bars. The computers also have information on paydays of major local employers. All of which can be potential factors in determining crime before it happens (7). Sometimes profilers will investigate unsolved cases, known as cold cases. When investigating these crimes, profilers will interview the family members of murder victims, review police files, and interview people who may have seen the criminal (4). These responsibilities are very important and often times confidential but every profiler needs the proper education to complete them.
Educational requirements of a criminal profiler include formal education in psychology, criminal justice and criminology. Along with a formal degree it is important obtain some investigative experience (4). A Profiles education should be dependent on the type of career they intend to pursue. For example if a profiler intends to use methods that involve statistical analysis when working on cases, then the profiler will need formal training with math and statistics (5). While most of the following knowledge is included in the curriculum for the degree a criminal profiler would need, the following is the basic knowledge that every profile needs and will utilize in the field: Knowledge of the criminal justice system, the various methods of criminal investigation, the scientific method, the science of logic, forensic science, of victims, of crime and criminals, of human sociology, human psychology, mental illness, drugs and alcohol and human anatomy and physiology (5).
The average salary of a criminal profiler ranges from about $35,000 a year on the low end to as high as $105,000. The average salary of a criminal profiler depends largely on experience of the profiler. According to a recent research report, profilers with less than a year of experience can expect a salary of $35,000 to $60,000 a year. Profilers with five to nine years of experience will make an average salary of $46,176 to $82,895 and with ten or more years in the field, a criminal profiler can expect to earn a salary of $59,780 to $106,125 (4). However while the salary looks promising for criminal profilers, the job market is scarce.
Criminal profilers can be employed in one of two different settings private and government positions. In private practice methods for profiling are imbedded in knowledge developed by forensic psychologists, psychiatrists and criminologists (8). In recent years, the FBI has begun to work closely with many criminal profilers -- in fact, it employs them (8) Profilers not working for the FBI typically work as statisticians or criminologists at universities and colleges. They usually work part-time as profilers, but many are now profiling and investigating on a full-time basis. Since there are so few profiling jobs available, it can be difficult to find a job after graduation (4).
Criminal profilers, while being a relatively new field, are regularly found in today’s media in shows such as “Criminal Minds” and “Lie to Me”(5). Some question the accuracy of these shows and it largely depends on the individual show.
Criminal profilers are a criminal justice tool used to solve current and past crimes, as well as predicting crimes that haven’t happened. It is a relatively new field with a small job market. However due to the boom of crime drama, the media has shined a light on the fairly behind the scenes psychology based career.

References

1. Federal Bureau of Investigation. (n.d.). Federal Bureau of Investigation. Retrieved March 15, 2014, from http://www.fbijobs.gov/114.asp

2. Kocsis, R. N., Middledorp, J., & Karpin, A. (2008). Taking Stock of Accuracy in Criminal Profiling: The Theoretical Quandary for Investigative Psychology. Journal of Forensic Psychology Practice, 8(3), 244-261.

3. Palermo, G. (2005). Offender Profiling: An Introduction To The Sociopsychological Analysis Of Violent Crime. American Journal of Psychiatry, 163(3), 559-560.

4. Psychological/Criminal Profiler Salary. (n.d.). Psychological Profiler Salary, Earnings and Wage Information. Retrieved March 15, 2014, from http://www.careerprofiles.info/psychological-profiler-salary.html

5. Turvey, B. E. (2002). Criminal profiling: an introduction to behavioral evidence analysis (2nd ed.). San Diego, Calif.: Academic Press.

6. Valliant, P. (1997). Personality and Criminal Profile of Adolescent Sexual Offenders, General Offenders in Comparison to Nonoffenders. Psychological Reports, 81(1), 483-489.

7. Vlahos, J. (2011). The Department of Pre-Crime. Scientific American, 306(1), 62-67.

8. Winerman, L. (n.d.). Criminal profiling: the reality behind the myth. http://www.apa.org. Retrieved March 15, 2014, from http://www.apa.org/monitor/julaug04/criminal.aspx

9. Woodworth, M. (2000). Historical Foundations and Current Applications of Criminal Profiling in Violent Crime Investigations. Expert Evidence, 7(4), 241-264.…...

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