“The Importance of Criminal Profiling in Identifying and Preventing Future Crimes” Mitigating Biases in Criminal Investigations

Zachary Hall – Week 2
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As criminal profiling occurs at the conclusion of both physical and behavioral evidence analysis, criminal profilers play an important role in identifying characteristics and behaviors of violent offenders (Turvey, 2011). Criminal profilers will use the information and evidence collected from the scene, in order to identify specific characteristics of an offender (Turvey, 2011). These characteristics are predictions to assist in the identification of the offender. Predictions can be used to assess if an offender will continue to pose a risk for future crimes, if or when released from jail, prison, mental hospital, etc. [National Research Council (NRC), 1994]. Prediction research focuses primarily on the chances of future crimes being committed by people with certain characteristics (NRC, 1994).
Preventing future crimes comes with uncertainties. One of the uncertainties of prevention of future crimes is offenders who need continual medication(s). Once the offender is released there is no overhead to ensure these offenders continue their medication(s). If a criminal profiler provides insight as to which offenders are more likely to stop their medication(s), future crimes may be prevented (NRC, 1994). However, only becoming aware of these traits or characteristics, the door is only open for the possibility of preventing future crimes (Holmes & Holmes, 1992).
Knowing traits of an offender and physical evidence, at times leads to an offender’s modus operandi (Turvey, 2011). Not only is the profiling of an offender important but identifying the “…characteristics of a particular offender’s victim choices can lead to inferences about…modus operandi…” (Turvey, 2011, pp. 125). The modus operandi used by offender is an indication of who is at risk. Knowing which victims are at most risk and exposure may prevent future crimes as well (Turvey, 2011). 
Preventing future crimes does not mean crimes will stop. It is merely the prevention of future crimes committed by previous offenders. Identifying and understanding specific traits or characteristics of offenders is a team effort (Turvey, 2011). This also gives law enforcement officers the knowledge of who potential offenders are while conducting patrols. Although law enforcement officers are unable to apprehend people before a crime has been committed, law enforcement officers will be able to assist people in getting the help they need before a crime is committed.
Holmes, R.M. & Holmes, S.T. (1992). Understanding mass murder: A starting point. A Journal of Correctional Philosophy and Practice. 56, 53-61.
National, Research Council, et al. (1994). Understanding and Preventing Violence, Volume 4: Consequences and Control. National Academies Press. http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/apus/detail.action?docID
Turvey, B.E. (2011). Criminal profiling: An introduction to behavioral evidence analysis. Chapter 5 & 6. http://ebookcentral-proquest-com.ezproxy1.apus.edu
Before criminal profiling can occur, a crime scene needs to be investigated. Crime scene investigations are at the heart of every crime. Crime scene investigations lead to crime scene analysis. People tend to interpret these as the same thing. However, crime scene analysis is “…the analytical process of interpreting the specific features of a crime and related crime scenes” (Turvey, 2011, pp. 158). Not all crime scenes provide a complete picture of a crime (Turvey, 2011). At times, intuition, or other forms of bias, is used to complete the analysis (Turvey, 2011).
Everyone has bias, whether we know it or not. When biases are present there is only a higher or lower attentiveness of his or her prejudice (Monahan & Polk, n.d.). Biases come in various forms and are used whether we know it or not (Turvey, 2011; Pittaro, 2018). Cultural stereotypes strengthen one’s bias towards certain individuals (Pittaro, 2018). These biases are dangerous when used without logic reasoning and in turn can destroy all efforts of an investigation (Turvey, 2011). Biases, by themselves, have no place throughout the investigation process (Turvey, 2011). Even though they have no place in the process, there is no way of removing all of the biases from out thought process (Turvey, 2011).
Biases are a part of everyday life, weather we realize it or not (Turvey, 2011; Pittaro, 2018). We are only able to mitigate a portion of the biases we hold (Turvey, 2011). Biases can be detrimental to criminal investigations as they may lead to the wrong profile (Turvey, 2011). The only mechanism that criminal profiles can implement with biases, is to more cognizant of their biases.
Monahan, J. & Polk, S. (n.d.). The effect of cultural bias on the investigation and prosecution of sexual assault. Police Chief Magazine. https://www.policechiefmagazine.org/the-effect-of-cultural-bias-on-the-investigation/.
Pittaro, M. (2018). Implicit Bias Within the Criminal Justice System, Psychology Today blog. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-crime-and-justice-doctor/201811/implicit-bias-within-the-criminal-justice-system.
Turvey, B.E. (2011). Criminal profiling: An introduction to behavioral evidence analysis. Chapter 4, 5, & 6. http://ebookcentral-proquest-com.ezproxy1.apus.edu 

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