What is criminal profiling?

By: Olivia KnaflaWith the rising popularity of shows such as ‘Criminal Minds’ and ‘Mindhunter’, the idea of criminal profiling is growing more and more common. However, there are lots of misconceptions regarding how it works and why it is used. Today, I will let you know a bit about this subject and help you gain a better understanding of what exactly it means to be a criminal profiler.

According to ScienceDict.com, criminal profiling is: “A collection of inferences about the qualities of the person responsible for committing a crime or a series of crimes.” Profiling is relatively new in the science world and it rests between the worlds of law enforcement and psychology. There is some dispute on it’s accuracy and methodology, but it has been proven to work in the past.

For example, between the years of 1940 and 1956, Georgr Metesky was able to evade police capture while planting over 30 bombs throughout New York City. After reviewing some crime scene photos, James Brussel (an assistant commissioner of mental hygiene), was able to come up with an idea of how this offender would be like. He profiled that he would be an unmarried, self-educated man in his 50’s, who lives in Connecticut, and has some sort of a personal vendetta against Con Edison.

This may seem random at first, but when you look into it, things begin to make a lot more sense.

He was able to deduce that he was in his 50’s as paranoia tends to peak around the age of 35, and considering it had been roughly 16 years since the first bomb was planted, it would put the offender in his 50’s. Also, from a psychological standpoint, bombers tend to be loners, typically unable to hold down a steady job or maintain relationships with others.

With this knowledge and a geographical profile, investigators were led right to Metesky, who was caught and arrested in 1957, and immediately confessed to his crimes.

This is only one example that shows the way that criminal profiling is able to serve its purpose, which is to help investigators examine evidence from the crime scene more thoroughly and to create an offender description based off of psychological theories and trends. Many people believe it to be as much of an art form as it is a science, but at the end of the day, there is still a lot to be learned about it, and we are off to a great start. Profiling has contributed to investigations more than ever recently, and now is the perfect time to learn what it’s all about.

3 thoughts on “What is criminal profiling?”

  1. Impressive article, especially being written by a then 15-year-old. Proud of you my girl! Love mom

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