Modern criminal profiling owes itself to a diverse history. Researchers have determined that is grounded in the study of crime and criminal behavior (criminology); the study of mental health and illness (psychology and psychiatry); and the examination of physical evidence (the forensic sciences). However, despite its many forms, it has always involved the inference of criminal characteristics for investigative and judicial purposes.
The reasoning used to support a given profile, however, has not always been consistent. It has ranged from a basis in statistical argumentation, to examining specific criminal behaviors, to subjective intuitive opinions based on personal belief and experience. In other words, profiling methods have only ever been as informed and accurate as the professionals behind them.
The variety of profiling methods used around the world, across agencies and analysts, has resulted in a state of professional confusion. Profilers are often poorly educated in the forensic and behavioral sciences (if at all), and consequently they are confused about who they are and where they fit within the criminal justice system. Other criminal justice professionals recognize and are confused about the same things, resulting in more than a little skepticism and even animosity. The media adds to myth by portraying profilers as supercops; and the general public often views profilers as a more specialized form of psychic. Ultimately, many inept and uneducated profilers are benefiting from this lack of professional cohesion and the ignorant misperceptions it allows to persist - and the justice system is being duped.
If criminal profilers are to be taken seriously in the twenty-first century, as professional operatives with substantive contributions to offer the justice system, then there are areas in which reforms need to be made. Education and training must be the first.
The ABP / IAFC
Earlier this month, the IAFC also passed the Criminal Profiler Professional Certification Act (CPPCA) of 2013. It is based on the body of literature developed by IAFC members since 1999, and is intended to facilitate training integrity across agencies and jurisdictions.
As explained by Det. John J. Baeza, a retired sex crimes investigator formerly with the NYPD’s Manhattan Special Victim Squad, and also a founding member of the ABP: “The new certification act developed and ratified by the IAFC is a much needed and welcome development in the field of Forensic Criminology. Upon completing the process successfully, IAFC members will be conferred by the ABP Board of Examiners with the designation of Diplomate-ABP, the highest credential for criminal profilers within the organization, the United States, and internationally.”
|Criminal Profiling, 4th Ed.|
Another founding member is Brent Turvey. He holds an MS in Forensic Science, a PhD in Criminology, and is the author of Criminal Profiling: An Introduction to Behavioral Evidence Analysis, currently in its 4th edition. He makes the following observations: “From news coverage of major cases to court proceedings, criminal profilers can be found giving their opinions. Often these are accepted based on trust and even a little ignorance, without any real scrutiny of professional credentials. But a close look at even those from federal agencies reveals an absence of relevant education. Profilers can often be found with no formal education, online degrees from diploma mills, or degrees in subjects such as music and animal physiology. Many will outright lie about their degrees and experience. Frankly, it’s professionally embarrassing, or at least it should be.” The CPPCA, Dr. Turvey argues, is necessary to cleave the qualified professional from those without actual credentials, those who simply hold a job title, and those who perform research without doing any casework.
Dr. Shawn Mikulay, a PhD level psychologist and the current Vice-President of the IAFC, is in agreement. He warns that: “As the field of forensic criminology and criminal profiling becomes increasingly accepted by the courts, it is critical a standard be put forth to identify those individuals who have been appropriately trained, educated, and mentored. With an increasing awareness of wrongful conviction, practitioners need to demonstrate that they have the ability to do their job competently. They also need to demonstrate that they understand and maintain the ethical standards to do it correctly.” The CPPA, Dr. Mikulay argues, is a major step towards accomplishing this.
For More Info...
The Diplomate credential ratified in Criminal Profiler Professional Certification Act is exclusively available to members of the IAFC. The entire Act can be found online at: http://profiling.org/CPPCA-2013.pdf. Currently their are profilers hard at work towards earning this credential in the United States, Canada, Mexico, and Portugal.
For more information, visit The International Association of Forensic Criminologists website at: www.profiling.org.