Geographic profiling is an investigative support technique for serial violent crime investigations. The process analyzes the locations connected to a series of crimes to determine the most probable area of offender residence. It should be regarded as an information management system designed to help focus an investigation, prioritize tips and suspects, and suggest new strategies to complement traditional methods.
A preliminary assessment is necessary to determine if a case is appropriate for geographic profiling. To do this, we discuss the crimes with the investigator, and then review a case information package. This package should include the following:
Needless to say, the accuracy of the profile is determined by the completeness and quality of the information upon which it is based.
In some circumstances, further information may be required (e.g., crime scene photographs, demographic data, bus routes, etc.). The profiler will advise the investigating officer of what additional materials are required. In more serious cases, visiting the crime sites by the geographic profiler is recommended. An on-site profile is generally more thorough, accurate and complete. All casework is kept strictly confidential.
In most cases we prepare a written report that explains the theory, process, and output of geographic profiling, and suggests certain investigative strategies. The investigator should consult with the profiler if there are any questions or if further explanation is required. If additional crimes occur or new information comes to light, an update on the profile may be necessary. When the offender is apprehended, we would appreciate being notified so that the accuracy and utility of the geographic profile can be assessed. It is important to realize that a profile is only one of many tools, and the requesting agency is responsible for intelligently combining it with the other techniques available to an investigation.