Author Malcolm Gladwell in his novel “Outliers” writes about a gathering of criminologists in 1940s New York. The finest minds in the detective world are gathered to understand the motives and nature of the Con Edison bomber.
In the nick of time it seems, a young psychiatrist by the name of James Brussel forwards a theory. “The bomber,” he said, “would be of Polish descent, unmarried, and when you catch him he will be dressed in a buttoned double-breasted suit.”
Sure enough, the police arrested the man, George Metesky, and he was indeed dressed how Brussel described.
This story was cited on CBS’s hit show Criminal Minds, which has been famous for bringing the practice of criminology into the public sphere. However, the truth of the matter is that much of the criminology seen on television is the work of elaborate guessing and suspenseful story-telling. Students taking police foundations training to enter the police force will discover for themselves that criminology is, in fact, a science – one which requires professional training and in-depth knowledge of criminal patterns.
The Purpose of Criminal Profiling
Criminology is also known as criminal profiling, which means typecasting a criminal’s behavioural patterns to solve a crime. Criminal profiling is used to catch criminals who have committed crimes of all types – whether they are single or serial cases. These crimes could range from robberies, arson and serious threats, to crimes such as assault and fraud.
One of the first steps to profiling a criminal is to form a personality profile. Police may determine specific characteristics and traits of the criminal, which will allow others to recognize him or her. After determining the personality profile, police will assess how to approach confronting and interviewing the suspect. Police will consider:
- The suspect’s strengths, weaknesses
- What interviewing techniques would be appropriate
- Trial and courtroom strategy
Reviewing the Evidence
Before an investigation can truly begin, law enforcement professionals must retrieve evidence from both the scene of the crime and any witnesses. This means investigating the crime scene for clues that could hint at either who the criminal is or their behaviour pattern. Graduates of police foundations courses know that it is not until police begin bringing witnesses into the station for interviews that they can start piecing together a profile of who the perpetrator may be.
Interviews and Trial
Once witnesses have given police enough information to begin narrowing down potential suspects, law enforcers can begin the interview process. The process of interviewing will help determine who the perpetrator may be – after which the interrogation process can begin. An interview can reveal important information about the suspect’s thoughts and behaviour patterns, and in some cases may lead to an admission of guilt.
When enough evidence is gathered, the police have the right to make an arrest and charge the suspect. The profile built around the criminal leading up to the charges all help create a trial strategy that law enforcers and legal professionals will use to convict the criminal in court.
What makes you interested in learning about criminology at police foundations school?