The Killer's Shadow - The Latest Book is Now Available! Click to Purchase
Mindhunters Inc

Mindhunters Inc

As announced by United States Attorney General Eric Holder, the Justice Department is taking another step away from what it deems “racial profiling.” If followed to the letter of the directive, this is not a bad thing, and well in keeping with the principles of equal justice that this nation stands for.

But let’s be careful not to throw out the proverbial baby with the bathwater.

The new directives expand the definition of profiling from simply race to other factors, such as religion. What this is meant to do is prevent wholesale roundups of Hispanics in immigration investigations, Muslims in terrorist operations, and African Americans in urban crime, among others. And this is as it should be.

But if the guidelines are interpreted to suggest that investigators should ignore distinguishing characteristics like race, religion and even sex, well, that’s just silly and counterproductive. The fact is that most of the immigration issues today do involve people of Hispanic background. Most of the terrorism today does involve Muslims. And most of the urban crime does involve African Americans. And in all three cases, we are talking about males, not females, which brings up another class of profiling. Ignoring these factors would be like investigating a lynching in the South in the 1920’s (which, to our everlasting shame, was seldom done) and not focussing on a suspect population of white racists.

There is still some lack of clarity on whether the Justice Department is calling for the continuation of exceptions to its anti-profiling orders in cases of national security. “These exceptions are a license to profile American Muslims and Hispanic- Americans,” Illinois Senator Richard Durbin told The New York Times in 2012.

Nonsense. They are common sense in any rational police investigation. Short of an eyewitness account, do we tell our detectives to look for every man and woman who possibly could have had the means and opportunity to commit the crime, without regard to race, sex, age, national origin, affinity group or any other identifier?

Of course not. And the reason for that is because means and opportunity are only two of the three suspect qualifiers. The other is motive.

Political correctness notwithstanding, we know from experience and extensive data collection and analysis that certain types of people have more reason and likelihood to commit a particular crime than others do. We call that profiling, whether it is racial, sex or age-based, or concerns ethnicity, culture, geography or anything else.

And it works. It helps solve crimes and keep us all safer.

6 Responses to Profiling Do’s and Don’t’s

  1. mdricex says:

    I think that this may be my favorite article that I have read here so far. The only thing I have to add to this beautiful article is–Amen.

    M.D. Rice

  2. While I can see merit and importance in nomothetic methods, and agree that statistical likeliness (when it comes to certain criminal trends) should be considered, it’s also important to realize that each case is it’s own universe and should be analyzed as such. Many investigators are in the bad habit of focusing on profiles to the exclusion of any other possibilities and such a thing is dangerous and creates bias.

    When it comes to Motive (the forces operating within or outside of an organism which initiate and direct behavior) one should always consider the possibility of multiple motives existing as well, or factors which create Secondary Motivation based on opportunism etc.

    Levels of Organization/Disorganization can also change depending on immediate mental states, or unforseen variables occurring which the offender doesn’t anticipate. (drug use that causes an otherwise organized type to become more disorganized and sloppy, the victim fighting back and causing the offender to flee and leave the scene without finishing what they set out to do; any of these and more could create disparity in the profilers reconstructive efforts.)

    An individualized approach is necessary for any case in my own view. Sometimes Nomothetic Methods serve best, other times a combination of Nomothetic and Ideodeductive methods are more adequate. Sometimes it’s useless either way and you have to wait around for the offender to screw up. (sad but true.)

  3. Zeno says:

    I have read Sexual Homicide and had questions. Now that we know more about the importance of signature in these crimes do you think you would go back and reclassify things according to signature. Perhaps you could you go back the original 36 study and classify them according organized disorganized plus the signature of a certain type. It would be interesting to see what the statistics are of certain signatures. At the very least it be interesting to see if there are differences from the post and premortem signatures.

    The other question I had for Mr Douglas was how many of the 12 in the disorganized category schizophrenic. Are there any subcategories in the disorganized killer type?


  4. Cornerstone says:

    Political correctness is beginning to cripple the system. It’s out of whack when caucasians can’t sue for racial discrimination in the workplace, because that can happen. It’s ridiculous you can’t focus on a certain group of people if you already know the perp came from that group of people. I hate to sound like my granddad, but the people squawking about it seem to be mostly people who don’t want themselves or their offspring to get caught. In a certain town in Texas where it’s gone all the way up the court system, a lessor can refuse to lease to just about any type of criminal (and indeed leave themselves open to lawsuits if they don’t) except those criminals in the country illegally. This makes even less sense than it looks like on the surface because these are undocumented people on whom you can’t even do background checks, as any good lessor would do, who aren’t allowed to work legally and so have no verifiable legal source of income. If they were caucasian, had no driver’s license or SS card and no legal employment, they would have trouble renting under their own name. So it’s out of whack.

    It’s easy to pick it all apart and find reasons for and against, but the fact is it’s becoming hard to prosecute anyone who needs prosecuting without someone organizing a protest about it.

    Law enforcement has taken lots of hits lately in what they can and can’t do. A recent law in my town regarding deadly force puts all the officers at risk. I don’t know where the buck stops on this stuff. I have never found our Congress to give a crap what the constituents think, so I believe it must all be coming from campaign strategies and nothing else. How can we endear ourselves to this group or that group and get the votes? Let’s do this. It’s out of control.

  5. Zeno says:

    This is a interesting question. It brings up a good point about profiling in general. I am strong believer in criminal profiling but at the same time it seems that one can rely too much on statistics and make mistakes.

    One of the problems in drawing a relationship based on statistics is the old problem of “correlation verses causation”.
    Factor A and Factor B could be occur together often. But it does not someone if A causes B,B causes A,or if they are both effects of a third cause. When things are assumed to go together without a more nuanced understanding it can lead to errors. This has been shown by some of the cases in the book you wrote together.

    It helps if the fact,no matter how strongly it occurs it helps if the fact can be backed up outside of correlation. For example the fact that violent criminals do not de escalate in violence is something that can be understood if you look at violence as a addiction. The criminal builds a tolerance to it and needs more violence to get the same level of simulation. .This can understood both inductively through statistics but deductively through principles.

    The idea that serial murders and rapists will stick to people of their own gender is something that required more explanation and sometimes led to the wrong conclusion. It was not understood till later that people who of certain races who live and grow up in areas with a culture that is predominately of another race will target that those people in that race. Also they
    seem to commit crimes in the similar manner to those racial groups in which they lived. Of course this could not be understood ahead of time. But now it gives one a reason why such a pattern exists and why it sometimes deviates from the pattern.

    I believe this is a important point that should be discussed more often.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


The Latest

  • Words of Wisdom
    From a poem by anti-Nazi theologian Pastor Martin Niemoller: First they came for […]


© 2019 Mindhunters, Inc.