Criminal Profiling is a behavioral and investigative tool that helps investigators to profile unknown criminal subjects or offenders. (Psychological profiling is not the same as criminal profiling and the two should not be confused.) Criminal profiling is also known as offender profiling, criminal personality profiling, criminological profiling, behavioral profiling or criminal investigative analysis. Television shows such as Law & Order: Criminal Intent, Profiler in the 1990s, the 2005 television series Criminal Minds, and the 1991 film The Silence of the Lambs have lent many names to what the FBI calls "criminal investigative analysis." In modern criminology, criminal profiling is generally considered the "third wave" of investigative science: the first wave was the study of clues, pioneered by Scotland Yard in the 19th century; the second wave the study of crime itself (frequency studies and the like); this third wave is the study of the abnormal psyche of the criminal.
Profiling is used to identify the perpetrator of a crime based on the manner in which the crime is committed, the evidence left behind, and sometimes the nature of the victim. By investigating the crime scene, a profiler may make educated guesses as to various aspects of the Unsub; race, age, mental state, social standing, etc. Based on this info, the profiler may release a profile to local authorities or media in an effort to catch the perpetrator.
On Criminal Minds
Most of the main characters of Criminal Minds are profilers, with the exceptions of Penelope Garcia, who is a hacker and Audio/Visual tech; Jennifer Jareau, who is the team liaison (though the latter becomes a profiler in Season Seven). The term "profiler", however, is a dramatized title. In reality, profilers are known as "criminalists" or "criminologists".
Real Life Profilers
- Patrick Mullany, FBI agent, co-founder of the BAU and co-pioneer of the FBI's offender profiling
- Howard Teten, police officer, FBI agent, 1960s; co-founder of the BAU and co-pioneer of the FBI's offender profiling
- John Douglas, FBI agent, 1970s-80s, pioneer in Behavioral Science
- Robert Ressler, FBI agent, 1970s-80s, partner of John Douglas
- Robert R. Hazelwood
- Thomas Bond, medical doctor, 1880s; one of the first profilers to attempt to catch Jack the Ripper, worked closely with Inspector Frederick Aberline.
- Walter Langer, OSS agent, 1940s
- James Brussel, psychiatrist, 1940s-50s
- David Canter, 1980s-90s, psychologist (England)
- Bond was inaccurately portrayed in the film From Hell as being very squeamish; an attribute that would have made for a very ineffective Medical Examiner.