The Necessity of Profiling in FBI

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Updated: Mar 14, 2023
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Category:Common Law
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How it works

Profiling is the idea of examining and analyzing offenders who are not known in the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). Howard D. Teten and Patrick J. Mullany first put it to use in 1972 on one of the unsolved cases that had been assigned to them. Profiling became a useful investigative tool to all law enforcement; with its effectiveness they adopted it and it became known as the Criminal Investigative Analysis Program (CIAP). Many agree with the idea of CIAP because it helps law enforcement search for and catch criminals.

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However, others fear that the police department has gone too far with it in the sense that they have used this tool based on race or ethnicity. People see this as an issue given that a tool created to help law enforcement catch those guilty of the crime, is being used to single out minority groups when looking for a reason to arrest someone. Although profiling was created as a tool that helps law enforcement and many agree, several argue that it is not being used as such.

In order to understand the topic in full, the origins of profiling need to be known, as well as its implementation. Diane Kratz wrote an article titled, “Do You Know Who Was the First Profiler in the FBI?”, where she talks about how profiling started out in law enforcement. In her article, Kratz states, “[Howard D.] Teten designed a method for analyzing unknown offenders” (Kratz). She informs us about who was the first FBI agent to profile and the process he went through. She explains the origins of the method known as profiling and how it was first implemented as a useful tool in the FBI. Later on, it becomes a useful tool in all law enforcement agencies and police departments as well.

In Kratz’s article, she talks about how Teten along with Patrick J. Mullany used the method in one of their cases. “Teten, Mullany, and Col. Robert K. Ressler employed their criminal investigative analysis technique to track down an unknown perpetrator” (Kratz). They used their profiling method for the first time and concluded with the results they were aiming for. This method went on to be used throughout the decades and is the program used by a plethora of agencies today.

It has come to show that the common public is blind to the process of how profiling actually works; with the like-minded thinking of many, they believe it is directed by one prospect of the whole idea. “How Profiling Works”, written by Ed Grabianowski can be summed up to being the manual for profiling. Grabianowski explains, “Basic profiling,” he then continues on by clarifying that it is “– identifying the perpetrator of a crime based on an analysis of crime and the way it was committed –” and that it “is a common investigative tool” (Grabianowski). This definition of profiling is one of many that are used by the public. It discussed the process of profiling in the article and the various types of profiling that exist to aid law enforcement.

Law enforcement profile because they want safety for American citizens. In an interview with Fox News, former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin was “All for” the profiling of Muslims, “…even the innocent ones” (Palin), she said, “Whatever it takes to save American lives” (Palin), the Alaskan Governor asserted. Many want the same thing as Sarah Palin want, and that is to keep all American citizens safe and sound.

The overall method of profiling came to be used by police department officers, as the public sees it the officers use it in their own way; in the means the officers us it can be identified as racial profiling. As said in Grabianowski’s article, “Racial profiling is a form of predictive profiling in which one of the factors (or the only factor) officers consider is the skin color or race of the suspect” (Grabianowski). The writer concludes that officers tend to profile based on race or ethnicity as a basis to arrest someone. In doing so, the public trust for police has been destroyed according to the various minority groups singled out by their action.

Profiling on the basis of race or ethnicity has left tension on the public trust in police as it has come to show in various ways. In the article titled, “Racial Profiling Has Destroyed Public Trust in Police. Cops Are Exploiting Our Weak Laws Against It” written by Ranjana Natarajan, the author explains the relationship between the common community and their local police on the fact that they racially profile. As Natarajan explains, “The NYPD’s controversial stop-and-frisk program shows similar evidence of racial profiling, with police targeting blacks and Latinos about 85 percent of the time.” (Natarajan). In other words, police implement racial profiling through law-abiding methods. In doing so, this highly contributing to the fight against profiling.

Along with the police-community relationship being strained, a lot of people find it to be a waste of time and resources when profiling based on race. Natarajan talks about how “In nearly nine out of 10 searches, police find nothing” (Natarajan). This goes to shows that, as said by many, police are wasting their time in profiling by race. A variety of opinion by the public want racial profiling to stop because they no longer want to see law enforcement harassing pedestrians for a means of arresting them.

Regarding Gabianowski’s article, another circumstance was embarked on, “The real controversy erupts when police departments have policy-level profiling systems that include race as a factor, or a department-wide culture that teaches and reinforces the practice” (Grabianowski). When the department as a whole allows this practice, it does not sit well with the public. Several use this as another fact to protest profiling and the use of it at all law enforcement levels.

The effectiveness of profiling has proven to be valuable, when race presents itself in profiling it tends to “…reduce — not enhance…” (Head) the chances of catching criminals. In Tom Head’s 2018 article titled, “Why Racial Profiling Is a Bad Idea”, he talks about how race playing a role in profiling is not the best path to take. “The effectiveness of searches”, Head wrote, “is reduced — not enhanced — by racial profiling. When racial profiling is used, officers end up wasting their limited time on innocent suspects” (Head). In other words, profiling someone based on their ethnicity is a waste of time for law enforcement agencies, while they’re busy with that their guilty suspect has yet to be questioned. It goes to show that ethnic profiling is something that is not needed and the thing that many oppose.

An important topic Head talks about in his article is how profiling on the basis of race is unconstitutional. Head writes, “The Fourteenth Amendment states, very clearly, that no state may ‘deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws’” (Head). Profiling because of someone’s ethnicity is unconstitutional. Therefore, when police departments and other law enforcement agencies allow this practice they’re being unconstitutional and the public does not want to allow that. According to Natarajan’s article, “…excessive force by police persists despite the constitution’s prohibition on unreasonable searches and seizures” (Natarajan). In this quote, she talks about the same topic as Head; ethnic profiling is not a law-abiding system. They both discuss how racial profiling is unconstitutional through the method of stop-and-frisk and or search and seizures.

Bountiful people acknowledge that profiling is essential for the safety of American citizens. Known to everyone to be created for positive use, many have come to the terms that profiling has become misconstrued. People deem profiling to only being lead on the grounds of race or ethnicity and argue that it is unconstitutional. There are many sides to the overall idea of CIAP, both valid and immoral. Profiling was first invented for law enforcers to catch criminals. Which then, in turn, helped keep American citizens safe. However, profiling has been misinterpreted to the point where officers focus on the ethnic factor of it. Which then creates an untrustworthy atmosphere around law enforcers.

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The Necessity of Profiling in FBI. (2021, Jun 03). Retrieved from