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Saturday, October 14, 2017

Becoming a FBI Criminal Profiler

     Contrary to the impression given in such stories as The Silence of the Lambs, we don't pluck profiling candidates for the Investigative Support Unit right out of the Academy….It doesn't work that way. First you get accepted by the Bureau, then you prove yourself in the field as a first-rate, creative investigator, then we recruit you for Quantico. And then you're ready for two years of intensive, specialized training before you become a full-fledged member of the unit.

     A good criminal profiler must first and foremost show imagination and creativity in investigation. He or she must be willing to take risks while still maintaining the respect and confidence of fellow agents and law enforcement officers. Our preferred candidates will show leadership, won't wait for a consensus before offering an opinion, will be persuasive in a group setting but tactful in helping to put a flawed investigation back on track. For these reasons, they must be able to work both alone and in groups.

     Once we choose a person, he or she will work with experienced members of the unit almost in a way a young associate in a law firm works with a senior partner. If they're at all lacking in street experience, we send them to the New York Police Department to ride along with their best homicide detectives. If they need more death investigation, we have nationally recognized consultants…in the field offices where they develop a strong rapport with state and local departments and sheriff's offices.

     The key attribute necessary to be a good profiler is judgement--a judgment based not primarily on the analysis of facts and figures but on instinct. It's difficult to define, but…we know it when we see it.

John Douglas and Mark Olshaker, Journey Into Darkness, 1977 

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