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Homeland Security: Police and Profiling Essay

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Updated: Aug 27th, 2020

Psychological profiling is the process of identifying certain psychological traits and specific behaviors in criminals and terrorists. This method is one of the tools used in homeland security. The government may use this technique in various ways. For example, such agencies as the FBI or CIA can develop various profiles that can be used to locate those who have committed some kind of violent crime (or a terroristic attack) or to identify a potential attacker or criminal (Bartol & Bartol, 2014). Officers of different agencies are trained to identify certain behaviors and pay closer attention to some individuals (White, 2013). For example, in airports or during some important venues, officers may detect such people and ask them to answer a number of questions or undergo some search procedure (Johnson, 2016). Moreover, analyzing people’s communications (emails, phone calls, and so on), the government also tries to identify potential terrorists.

Profiling is quite a viable tool as it provides officers with important information concerning the criminal or terrorist. These profiles are developed on the basis of the data collected during the investigation (Barrow, Rufo, & Arambula, 2013). These data include behaviors, information concerning physical appearance, background, and so on. It is important to note that the information about criminals who have been arrested and interrogated is taken into account. Clearly, responses and behaviors of criminals exhibited can be used to identify a person who has committed a similar crime, under similar conditions. However, profiling may also involve some generalizations, which is one of its major flaws (Gabbidon & Taylor Greene, 2012). These generalizations may lead to erroneous conclusions and biased attitudes towards certain groups.

Rigoglioso (2014) notes that the life of Muslim people in the USA has become more difficult as they are under constant watch due to the association of terrorism with Islam. Of course, Arabic people are also regarded as potential terrorists, which often causes inconveniences for these people. Nonetheless, homeland security benefits from the use of psychological profiling as this technique has shown positive results and many cases have been solved with the help of this method (Barrow et al., 2013). Apart from the stage of the investigation, it is possible to add that psychological analysis is central to the domain of defense. For instance, such aspects as competency, insanity and various psychological syndromes can become the central point in an individual’s defense strategy. This aspect can become vital for the defendant as the court takes into account these psychological states.

As has been mentioned above, the government uses a variety of methods to enhance domestic security, but these measures often violate citizens’ liberties. For example, the use of cameras and the unlimited access to people’s communications (emails, phone calls) or even their devices pose major threats to people’s right to privacy. The US Constitution is violated as the government often uses unreasonable seizures and searches especially when it comes to the digital world (Rigoglioso, 2014). To address this issue, the government should make sure that only information available publicly is analyzed. No searches of private communications can be implemented unless there is sound evidence proving the individual’s guilt or involvement in some criminal activities (or preparations for the criminal activity). It is vital to develop specific criteria for such notions as sound evidence, guilt, the potential criminal, and so on. The lack of clarity in this area often leads to violations of people’s rights. Some people believe that even the First Amendment is violated as people try to limit their communication if they believe they are under some kind of suspicion (Rigoglioso, 2014).

Therefore, it is crucial to make sure that there is no bias or prejudice concerning specific groups especially when it comes to race or religion (Gabbidon & Taylor Greene, 2012). When it comes to surveillance, public places can be equipped with cameras, but it is important to use effective software that could analyze people’s behaviors properly. This strategy is not a violation of civil liberties as cameras can be regarded as officers who ensure order. Nonetheless, there are also procedures (such as hypnosis, lie detection, and psychological autopsies) that will be used by law enforcement officers due to their effectiveness even though they can also be associated with some negative outcomes for people, especially when it comes to their psychological states. However, it is still important to ensure that the procedures are implemented properly, and the most advanced technology and methods are used.

The psychological profiler is one of the professionals who contribute to ensuring homeland security. This professional analyzes behaviors and backgrounds of criminals and terrorists and identifies major traits that are in common (Barrow et al., 2013). These traits can be further analyzed, and psychological portraits and profiles can be developed. The profiles can be later used to identify potential offenders. Furthermore, they can train other officers to detect potential offenders effectively. Prevention of crimes and terroristic attacks can be real due to the effort of psychological profilers. The whole society will benefit since there will be no victims and no damage to any property. Of course, this sounds quite unrealistic, but the development of technology can enable profilers and other officers to identify potential offenders in an effective way. There are various tools that help detect some behaviors (gestures, eye movement, blood pressure, and so on). In the future, these tools will become more sophisticated, which will help prevent numerous crimes.


Barrow, L. M., Rufo, R. A., & Arambula, S. (2013). Police and profiling in the United States: Applying theory to criminal investigations. New York, NY: CRC Press.

Bartol, C. R., & Bartol, A. M. (2014). Introduction: to forensic psychology: Research and application. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications.

Gabbidon, S. L., & Taylor Greene, H. (2012). Race and crime. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications.

Johnson, R. (2016). Forensic psychological mindset of a terrorist: More questions than answers for public safety threat risk assessments. Security Journal, 29(2), 185-197.

Rigoglioso, M. (2014). . Stanford Lawyer, 91. Web.

White, J. R. (2013). Terrorism and homeland security. Belmont, CA: Cengage Learning.

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