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Crime Scene Profiling in Premises Security Litigation

NCJ Number
Security Journal Volume: 12 Issue: 4 Dated: 1999 Pages: 7-15
Robert J. Homant
Date Published
9 pages
In premises security litigation, the issue is often whether some absent security measures would have deterred the offender; this in turn requires an assessment of the mind set and motivation of various categories of offenders as they select and attack targets; this article discusses such "crime scene profiling."
In many cases, reasonable inferences about what would have happened under altered levels of security can be made, if guided by basic principles of behavior. Profilers can be helpful in reconstructing crime scenes and in assessing offender motivation, but there is no evidence that they do this more effectively than experienced crime scene investigators, criminologists, or other behavioral scientists experienced with criminal behavior. Regardless of the credentials of those making the inferences, it is critical that they be able to articulate the logic and empirical data by which they reach their conclusions. In an actual case, the plaintiff must establish that some different level of security should have been in place to prevent the crime. If that altered level is trivial, then there must be some specific reason to think that this would alter the offender's behavior. If the altered security is great and would be readily evident to a potential offender, then there is much more likelihood it would affect behavior. This preliminary judgment about what a rational offender would have done needs to be adjusted to reflect three principles. First, the offender's intelligence level can be reasonably estimated by how the crime was executed. Second, the significance of the target must be determined; i.e., was the offender desperate to assault or rob someone on this particular occasion or was there something special about this target. Third, it should be determined whether there is any evidence to override the assumption of the rational offender, such as whether the offender was under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or was highly anxious or stressed. 23 notes