- Does suspect based profiling differ from racial profiling? Why or why not?
The short answer to whether there is a difference between suspect based profiling and racial profiling is yes, there is a difference. Ultimately, they are opposite of each other in regards to what is being looked at. Suspect based profiling is profiling that looks at the circumstances behind a crime that is done by a suspect and what type of person conducts these types of crimes based on data from similar crimes. It analyzes facts and historical crimes and then it produces a likely outcome of the type of person that committed the crime.
Racial profiling is the opposite. This type of profiling takes the person them selves and says they are likely to commit specific crimes because of their race, economic/social status, and other factors completely based on looks and where that individual grew up, lives, or is currently at. This may be based on data also but brings factors like skin color into play which have no affect on what type of person they are.
- How do the contradiction and disagreement within the field of criminal profiling hinder advancements in this emerging field? How do they help to advance the emerging field?
In any professional field there are going to be disagreements amongst professionals that study and practice those specific areas. In most cases and in the case of criminal profiling, these disagreements drive the field to continue to learn and evolve so that the professionals can get on the same page, or closer to it. This drive also brings more accuracy and validity to the field when there are less ways information can be interpreted. On the opposite spectrum, these disagreements can be detrimental to the field and to a court proceeding.
When professional disagree about topics in the field, they make people question whether there is real validity to the field and to the professionals themselves. When in a newer/growing field there is a lot of time and in many situations, money needed to help learn more and advance the field. If those experts in the field cannot come to agreements on what is accurate and what is not, those helping the field grow may lose faith and back out, which in turn, causes the field to die off.
When it comes to court proceedings and criminal profiling being a tool used to find/catch a suspect, any information that can be used against the profiler to discredit them may build doubt in the process of how that person was caught. When two people claim to be experts and both undermine each other and show that the field can be interpreted in more than one way, it causes the field to lose credit and can be the reason a criminal goes free.
- What can investigators and profilers do to make sure their profiles are created with an ethical approach that is free from personal bias and stereotypes? Is it possible to create a profile without injecting personal assumptions about the offender?
This topic is a very tricky one and I can see how there can be different views. I think it is possible to create profiles ethically and without personal bias. The first step is ensuring that any profiler removes themselves from an investigation that they may have personal ties to. For example, a profile that was a victim of sexual assault or had someone close to them that was a victim should not be involved in building a profile in a sexual assault/rape investigation. When there is no personal connection to a case, I think it is easy to build a profile without bias and assuming things about the offender. Sticking just to the facts and statistics of historical cases, a profile can be built based completely on facts as long as the profiler can work by those guidelines.
Petherick, W., Kennedy, D., & Homant, R. (2005). Serial Crime: Theoretical and Practical Issues in Behavioral Profiling. ProQuest Ebook Central
Suspect based profiling does differ from racial profiling. According to Columbia County Sheriffs Office IT Director (2018), bias-based policing is the use of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, religion, economic status, background, age, or culture as the sole basis for police activity.” Most will refer to this as racial profiling. It is not a legitimate form of law enforcement to engage in this kind of policing. Moreover, it violates agency regulations. Unlike racial profiling, law enforcement uses criminal and/or suspect profiling to narrow a suspect field in a criminal investigation based on knowledge, training, and experience. Police officers utilize this type of profiling often. In order to determine a suspect’s identity, information such as facts, patterns of activity, and motives is taken into consideration. Through these facts and factors, law enforcement agencies are able to identify types of people or groups of people that are most likely to be involved in criminal activity. This is based on their gender, age, race, and/or personalities. As a result, cases can be resolved more quickly with fewer suspects to consider. Citizen rights to equal protection under the law are violated by discriminatory enforcement practices like bias-based profiling. Any agency that tolerates bias-based profiling can face serious legal repercussions, alienate citizens, foster distrust toward the police, and invite media scrutiny.
Profiling often uses fragments of archival records as source material, which poses a major issue in terms of their reliability as Kocsis & Palermo (n.d.). Several studies have examined the unreliability of information obtained from eyewitness testimony and how offenses are formally recorded in police catalogs and statistics, and how to formalize the reporting and recording of criminal activities. Considering some research’s reliance on data sources limited and principles in the past, it is reasonable to question how valid profiling is. This could also hinder the advancements in the future. Researchers who publish their research of criminal profiling in peer-reviewed publications have the disadvantage of being scrutinized by others by virtue of this process, which makes revealing operational information undesirable. Kocsis & Palermo (n.d.) also went on to explain that it is possible that potential offenders could be alerted to police techniques through the publication of literature, but such concerns need to be weighed against the relatively low readership of scientific journals and texts. Furthermore, such literature is often sophisticated, and the level of education required of the offenders who choose to research it oftentimes makes it less helpful to them. Social science research methods geared toward producing scholarly research are likely to be the most important for the scientific development of profiling. Although policing agencies are committed to maintaining public order and apprehending offenders, the scientific development of profiling is arguably not their primary mission. Profiles are unquestionably one of the most commonly employed forensic investigating techniques in criminal investigations, but they are not necessarily best achieved exclusively by police officers. Profiling’s scientific advancement may be hindered by ownership disputes, which are counterproductive.
Columbia County Sheriff’s Office IT Director. (2018, November 6). Bias-based profiling vs criminal profiling. Columbia County, FL – Sheriff’s Office. Retrieved from https://columbiasheriff.org/2018/11/06/bias-based-profiling-vs-criminal-profiling/
Kocsis, R. N., & Palermo, G. B. (n.d.). Contemporary Problems in Criminal Profiling. Cover. Retrieved August 29, 2022, from http://eknygos.lsmuni.lt/akuserijaen/