Criminal Behavioral Profiling
Criminal behavioral profiling entails deriving logical, relevant conclusions about an offender based on physical crime scene characteristics and the behaviors directly associated with case circumstances plus the victimology. Stated succinctly, “The ‘what’ plus the ‘how’ equals who” (former FBI special agent John Douglas). Also refer to Turvey 2012 (References).
Analyzing criminal behavioral evidence is a systematic process conducted in accordance with scientific methodology using analytical logic and critical thinking skills to render an accurate and realistic assessment of the offender. Profiling is an offshoot of the criminology disciple grounded in behavioral psychology and physical forensic science.
Having completed graduate coursework (diploma) with the Forensic Criminology Institute in conjunction with the Academy of Behavioral Profilers and the International Association of Forensic Criminologists (2019), I aim to offer profiling for requesting agencies.
Further, to assess any given subject’s truthfulness in regards to the commission of an offense, I have earned certification to perform the Reid Technique of investigative interviewing and advanced interrogation.
The Reid Technique is a well-established procedural behavioral analysis used to determine the truthfulness of a subject (suspect, witness or victim) and elicit an admission/confession if applicable.
Special skill sets
My neuroscientific expertise (PhD) confers an analytical approach to criminal behavioral profiling. My biomedical background is especially advantageous since I can liaise with medical examiners effectively and interpret autopsy/toxicology reports, etc. Further, my knowledge of bloodstain pattern analysis and crime scene reconstruction is a uniquely advantageous forté.
What is not profiling?
Forensic psychologists and psychiatrists are not profilers. Neither are investigators, detectives, criminologists, counselors, medical examiners, law enforcement officials, etc. (Unless, of course, such professionals also happen to be specifically trained in criminal behavioral profiling apart from their given field).
In the court of law, both forensic psychologists and psychiatrists principally focus on the mental state of the patient/defendant rather than specifics of their alleged committed crime.
For context, a forensic psychologist is clinician who holds a doctorate in psychology (PsyD). Forensic psychologists directly assess patients/defendants (or witnesses or victims, in some instances) vis-à-vis to determine if they are competent to stand trial, understand the charges against them, ability to work cooperatively with their attorney, assess credibility/trustworthiness, level of risk/harm, etc. Forensic psychologists can diagnosis neuropsychological conditions, plus proffer diminished capacity and/or not guilty by reason of insanity defense for the statute. A forensic psychiatrist is a clinician who holds a medical doctorate (MD) with specialty in psychiatry and can prescribe medication. Like psychologists, forensic psychiatrists directly interact with patients/defendants vis-à-vis. Psychologist and psychiatrists principally focus on patient wellness, care and treatment.
Conversely, criminal behavioral profilers do not necessarily hold any academic graduate degree, i.e., masters or doctorate (although some do), each having varied backgrounds, but rather are trained specifically in profiling. For context, I hold a doctorate in neuroscience (PhD).
Why profiling matters
Investigative analysis helps to optimize law enforcement resources as the case unfolds whereas forensic analysis, conducted in accordance with the statute, presents conclusive findings admissible in court. Investigative profiling benefits include:
● Establishing a comprehensive profile informs, refines and vectors investigative directives.
● Excludes impossible or improbable case scenarios, alleviating ‘needle in the haystack’ investigative guesswork.
● Conserves investigative resources and funding for police agencies.
● Better allocation of time, resultantly reducing risks to public safety.
● Helps realistically sequence and reconstruct crime scene events.
● For serial crimes, profiling can help reveal a suspect’s geographical location or refine the search.
● Linkage analysis identifies and systematically compares consensual behavioral factors to help answer the investigative question, “Are these cases related?” I.e., is the same offender responsible for more than one incident?
Interactive project/thesis for publication (Du Beau, July 2019) with the Forensic Criminology Institute in conjunction with the Academy of Behavioral Profilers and the International Association of Forensic Criminologists.
Geographic profiling of serial murderers: comparative case study analysis
Abstract | Serial crimes pose an especially dire threat to public safety. Serial murderers volitionally choose places to prey, encounter, kill and dispose of their victims using their own distinctive mental maps. Using a novel application of mapping technology and imaging techniques, this study explicitly addresses the geography of serial murderers as a function of their behavioral profiles by analyzing three solved cases: Robert Hansen, Israel Keyes and Cody Legebokoff. This study highlights the need for identifying, classifying and collecting comprehensive serial crime scene location data to refine investigative profiling directives in support of implementing Savanna’s Act and allaying risks to public safety. Psychogeographic profiling emerges as a powerful investigative method.
The Reid Technique is a procedural assessment of a subject’s truthfulness or deception in regards the commission of an offense. The Behavioral Analysis Interview (BAI) is a structured, standardized question/answer program used to establish a behavioral baseline and determine the validity of subject’s account independent from a polygraph examination followed by a nine step interrogation to elicit a confession.
The BAI technique, historically developed by John E. Reid and associates (circa 1947), is based on identifiable verbal, non-verbal (e.g., eye movements, posture, gestures, etc.) and paralinguistic features (e.g., voice modulation, intonation, word choice, etc.) exhibited by the subject in tandem with known circumstances and physical evidence. The Reid Technique is non-confrontational and volitional, inviting the subject to present her/his own experience of events and their motivating factors.
My own behavioral profiling training and neuroscientific background richly augments my Reid Technique training. Please refer to my blog article, ‘Detecting Deception’:
For more information about the Reid Technique and legal updates, please refer to their educational information sites:
Occam’s razor is a problem solving principle stating that simpler solutions are more likely to be correct than complex solutions, i.e., everything should be kept as simple as possible, but not simpler. Defying Occam’s razor risks introducing artefactual information. The law of parsimony. Mathematical elegance. “Entities shall not be multiplied without necessity” (William of Occam, c. late1200s).
Du Beau A. Psychogeographic profiling. Google Maps. Available from: https://google.com/maps/. 2019.
Godwin GM. Criminal Psychology and Forensic Technology. Boca Raton, Florida: CRC Press, LLC; 2001. 351 p.
Le Beau JL. Patterns of stranger and serial rape offending: factors distinguishing apprehended and at-large offenders. JCLC. 1987; 78:309-26.
Soria MA, Villalba D. Review: Principles of geographical profiling. J Forensic Biomed. 2016; 8(1):1-3.
Turvey BE. Criminal Profling: An Introduction to Behavioral Evidence Analysis. 4th ed: Elsevier; 2012.