Commentary and information about public safety and security, intelligence and counterintelligence, open government and secrecy, and other issues in northern Idaho and eastern Washington.

Location: Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, United States

Raised in Palouse, WA. Graduated from Washington State University. US Army (Counterintelligence). US Secret Service (Technical Security Division) in Fantasyland-on-the-Potomac and Los Angeles. Now living in north Idaho.

Monday, May 23, 2005

Social Scientists at the Crime Scene

In his 1893 treatise "System der Kriminalistik", the noted Austrian jurist Dr. Hans Gross commented that it was impossible for a man to walk through a room and not leave some sign of his presence. At the time, Dr. Gross was no doubt talking about a sign that was physical and that with the proper method, could be collected, preserved, and then presented in court. Dr. Gross is considered by many to be one of the fathers of criminalistics.

But criminals often leave behind less tangible though no less observable signs of their presence. Often the remnants of their unique behaviors can give investigators some insight into the individual and cultural mindsets of the criminals. It is the job of forensic social scientists to look at the physical evidence either present or notably absent at a crime scene to try and draw some conclusions about the individual and group behavior of the perpetrator(s).

The work product of forensic social scientists is not a magic wand or a shortcut. Their work can complement but not replace the systematic and meticulous physical crime scene processing done by investigators and criminalists or crime scene investigators. Rather than pointing a finger at a specific suspect(s), the social scientists can identify behavioral indicators left and the crime scene and often suggest personal and group traits likely to be exhibited by the

For more information about the work of forensic behavioral scientists at the crime scene, see

The FBI Academy Behavioral Sciences Unit

History of Profiling


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