Contributing authors from law enforcement, academic, mental health and forensic science communities provide a balance perspective.
Complete glossary of key terms Companion Web site includes all appendices from previous volumes and figure collection at Manual Web site provides an instructor's manual for each chapter, powerpoint slideshows, and case reports from Brent Turvey's work.
Foreword to the Third Edition
-W. Jerry Chisum
Men of genius do not excel in any profession because they labor in it, but they labor in it because they excel.
-William Hazlitt (1778-1830)
In the 1970s, I was introduced to profiling at the FBI Academy when several classes were taught to the American Society of Crime Lab Directors. I saw this field as an adjunct to crime scene investigation and I had a great deal of enthusiasm for its merits. Later in my career, I worked with the FBI-trained profiler for the California Department of Justice (CA DOJ) and even considered transferring out of the crime lab business to follow a similar path. The successor to the original DOJ profiler caused me to rethink my position.
In the early years of profiling's development at the FBI, the public knew little about the actual methods used by profilers, or that there were such things as profilers at all. They perhaps knew, for example, that a profiler had helped with the Atlanta Child Murders, but little else. It was the later films based on the works of author Thomas Harris that caught the public eye and caused profiling to become a profession of interest; in particular, Mindhunter (1986) and Silence of the Lambs (1991). As a direct result of these and other similar films, and of the TV shows that came after, ike UNSUB (Unknown Subject) , Millennium , Profiler , and more recently Criminal Minds , more than a few criminal justice students have been inspired to become profilers.
However, many of the television programs became more supernatural in their orientation, with the profiler having "flashes" of the crime as it had occurred. This did not provide a real sense of what profilers actually can and cannot do. Profiles do not come in a flash or vision; they take long hard work examining physical and behavioral evidence. This was something that I wanted my own students to understand.
During the 1990s, when I worked for CA DOJ, I often invited our DOJ profilers to lecture in my crime reconstruction class. They had been trained by the FBI and could explain some of the methods and services that were available. On one such occasion, one of my students asked, "What happens if there are different opinions or interpretations about a profile?" The profiler responded, in essence, "That could never happen. We get together before a report is finalized and all come to an agreement." The "we" referred to the DOJ profiler and the FBI profiling unit back in Quantico. Bear in mind, this statement was made to a class of forensic scientists; all of them were criminalists with at least 10 years in crime labs, and who actively responded to crime scenes. We were shocked that there could not be different opinions about the same evidence. That everyone must reach a consensus before an FBI-style profile could be drawn up was unbelievable.
Criminalists frequently disagree about the interpretation of physical evidence and do not always reach consensus. You can't compromise a physical fact, just the interpretation. And interpretations can vary.
For someone interpreting the characteristics of a person committing a crime to say that all profilers (in the field and back at Quantico) must reach agreement before a report could be written just blew our minds. While this tradition builds consensus and squashes dissent (and lets it appear as though the final report has passed a form of peer review), it's fairly bad practice. At that moment, my class realized that FBI-style profiling was not an infallible discipline, despite what we were previously led to believe. Good science dictates that we cannot always agree; there must be room for differing opinions and interpretations. As Samuel Butler wrote, 1
Then he saw also that it matters little what profession, whether of religion or irreligion, a man may make, provide