While informal criminal profiling has been around for centuries, in 1974 the FBI formed its Behavioral Science Unit to study serial predators. Since then, the art and science of criminal profiling has been the subject of books and TV shows, including the popular Netflix series Mindhunter. Today, criminal profilers analyze crime scenes and witness statements to develop a basic description of an unknown offender that can include psychological traits, demographic variables, psychopathologies and likely behavioral patterns. In this episode, Dr. Joni Johnston talks to former FBI profiler Pete Klismet about the myths and realities of criminal profiling – what it is, how profilers do it, how it can help law enforcement in the apprehension and prosecution of serial offenders, and when it can lead them astray.
Pete Klismet is a former Ventura (CA) police officer, and holds a master’s degree in criminal justice from California Lutheran University and another in public administration from the University of Southern California. He is a retired Special Agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and was one of the first formally-trained psychological profilers in the bureau. He served in law enforcement for over thirty years before joining the faculty at Pikes Peak Community College as an associate professor of criminal justice, going on to chair the department. He is an award-winning author, and is the founder and director of Criminal Profiling Associates, a law enforcement consulting company.