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Combat vs. Criminal Profiling

What’s the difference between combat profiling and criminal profiling?

I had a conversation today with an FBI profiler from the Bureau’s Behavioral Analysis Unit. During our conversation it became clear just how different criminal profiling is from combat profiling. The main difference is that criminal profiling is reactive, while combat profiling is proactive. What follows is a comparison and contrast between combat profiling and criminal profiling.

Definition:
Combat profiling: This is a method of proactively identifying threats based on human behavior.
Criminal profiling: Also called psychological profiling or Criminal Investigative Analysis, is a method of developing a personality profile about a criminal based on the characteristics of the perpetrators crime or series of crimes (Criminal Profiling by Brent Turvey).

Comparison and Contrast:
Combat profiling: Proactively identifies threats based on behavior to prevent a crime or attack.
Criminal profiling: Reactively identifies likely characteristics of an offender based on a crime already committed.

Combat profiling: Uses heuristics, makes decision based on little information with little time.
Criminal profiling: Uses the scientific method.

Combat profiling: Teaches critical thinking.
Criminal profiling: Requires critical thinking.

Combat profiling: Makes snap decisions based on a small amount of information.
Criminal profiling: Based on making rational arguments.

Combat profiling: Attempts to identify who is or will be the threat.
Criminal profiling: Provides information as to the type of person who would have committed a certain crime.

Combat profiling: Helps prevent violent crimes and attacks.
Criminal profiling: Helps solve violent crimes.

Combat profiling: Works off known human behavioral patterns.
Criminal profiling: Works off of known patterns and characteristics of offenders.

Combat profiling: Uses criminal or insurgent MOs to predict and prevent crimes and attacks.
Criminal profiling: Uses a criminal MOs to link known crimes to unsolved crimes, identify suspects of unsolved cases.

Combat profiling: Attempts to identify a criminal or attacker based on behavior, behavior patterns, and threat indicators.
Criminal profiling: Develops a profile of the possible criminal: predicts age, gender, mental state, job, habits, mode of transportation, and personality traits.

Combat profiling: Attempts to identify the exact threat.
Criminal profiling: Cannot identify the exact perpetrator.

Combat profiling: Analyzes patterns to predict behavior.
Criminal profiling: Analyzes patterns of crimes to link crimes together and criminals to crimes.

Combat profiling: Identifies anomalies in situations and behaviors to identify threats.
Criminal profiling: Anomalies hinder investigation.

Criminal profiling is a useful way for those in law enforcement to make sense of all the information they collect from crime scenes, but it’s not an effective tool for the operators on the ground to identify and mitigate threats. Combat profiling teaches people to look at behavior, establish baselines, and look for those anomalies and indicators to predict threats and prevent crimes and attacks. Both are important, but only one of these methods keeps people alive on the street and in combat.

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