Why Analyze Criminal Behavior?

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Understanding Criminal Behavioral Analysis

For over 40 years, the Federal Bureau of Investigation has led the way in the study of behavioral science as it applies to criminal activity. The procedures and policies developed by the FBI at their Behavioral Science Unit in Quantico, Virginia, have since become the standard which law enforcement agencies now measure against. Today, the role of criminal behavior analyst is one of the many career paths open to professionals who possess a master’s in criminal justice.

The premise behind the study of criminal human behavior is simple: the more we understand who criminals are, how they think and why they engage in criminal activity, the greater chance we have to solve crimes and reduce criminal doings. Historically, there are three theoretical models of criminal behavior:

  • Psychological
    The psychological model suggests that there is a criminal type of individual that exhibits an antisocial personality with a history of deviant behavior since childhood.
  • Sociological
    Sociological factors overlap with the psychological and infer that crime is a social phenomenon that can never truly be eradicated.
  • Biological
    This theory bases criminal behavior in some sort of biological flaw that is due to heredity, neurological dysfunction, or brain abnormalities resulting from injury or improper development.

These three theories can be seen throughout the formal study of criminal behavior analysis which will present topics like interpersonal violence, personality traits, behavioral characteristics, conflict resolution, gang mentality, youth violence, and more.

There is also another piece of criminal profiling that goes into the actual details of the crime itself. This part of the job includes examining evidence, interviewing witnesses and victims, and scrutinizing crime scenes. Analysis of the victim(s) is another essential part of crime investigation. Beyond race and age, this would include intellect, education, employment, social activities, and unique personal identifiers.

This information, coupled with a behavioral profile, can help investigators pinpoint patterns that could potentially point to a specific individual, gang or cartel. The more we understand about the victim and the crime, the better the chances of solving a homicide, sex crime, arson, theft, or other serious crime.

Cybercrime can also fall into a criminal behavior analyst’s domain. This sort of “digital forensics” involves accessing and deciphering computer data in order to find electronic evidence of criminal activity. This can include analysis of web site traffic, e-mail conversations, test messages, and other identifying digital fingerprints.