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What does the BAU actually do?

Okay- I admit I've been watching a little too much criminal Minds- but I was wondering what they actually do. I find interesting- "profiles." I think that it's a great tool to really get into a criminal's minds- no pun intended. I've watched my fair share of law enforcement tv shows- and they all have inspired me. But- I don't know exactly what would fit me best- Anyways, The BAU is very interesting, helpful and cool. I really want to know what they really do? IS the show accurate? Do they actually investigate? Or do they just give profiles? #law #business #criminalminds #newyork # #criminal-justice #lawyers #corporate-law #fbi #bau #law-enforcement #enforcement


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Brittany’s Answer

I don't work in that field or with BAU; however, I have family members that were in special investigations departments that have worked with them in the past. BAU is the forefront of behavioral science when it comes to analyzing violent crimes, criminal patterns, and getting into the mind of the more violent criminals. The BAU originates from the BSU, which was the origin of the NCAVC and many other organizations (ex - hostage negotiation trainings, etc.).

When in this job, you can expect to be immersed into some of the most gruesome crimes and quite a bit of violent activity, which can be draining depending on your personality. If you are able to easily compartmentalize, you'll have an easier time with the day to day analysis and work within the department.

Description from the FBI:
"BAU personnel collaborate closely with federal, local and international law enforcement agencies to produce accurate recreations of violent crimes, provide a psychological framework for such crimes and predict the likely actions of violent perpetrators. The keen insights of BAU scientists have helped countless investigations identify and apprehend criminals and terrorists before they could produce any more violence.

The Behavioral Analysis Unit has commonly been popularized as profilers for their ability to analyze evidence and develop a psychological profile of the culprit. The effectiveness of these FBI profilers is based on careful analysis of thousands of cases of violent crime, which are then used in similar cases to provide an understanding of the perpetrators motives and modes of operation. The FBI NCAVC maintains a database of violent crimes that is accessible to police at the local and state levels.

BAU officers and scientists should be able to perform the following duties:

Reconstruct a crime based on the evidence
Create a profile of the perpetrator along with distinguishing psychological features and behavioral patterns
Partner with other law enforcement agencies and provide investigative support
Maintain a current database on violent crimes, terroristic actions and aberrant behavior
Interview criminals and terrorists in order to obtain insights into their motives and actions
Provide insights into serial criminals which may assist in apprehension
Develop threat assessments about individuals and groups that pose risks to national or public safety"

I've included some links below that might help.

Brittany recommends the following next steps:

https://www.fbi.gov/audio-repository/news-podcasts-inside-bau-profilers.mp3/view
https://www.womenonbusiness.com/do-you-have-the-skills-and-stomach-to-become-an-fbi-profiler/#:~:text=FBI%20profiler%20is%20a%20demanding,strong%20skills%20for%20managing%20stress.
https://www.fbiagentedu.org/careers/intelligence/fbi-behavioral-analyst/

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Ramesh’s Answer

Oriana this is a great question! TV can be somewhat misleading at times :)
So the first Behavorial Analysis Unit started with the FBI in the 1980's. They were set up to assist law enforcement agencies nationwide in solving major crimes, such as homicide, rape, etc., by providing in-depth analysis and interpretation of crime scene data. The way it worked is that a homicide detective in Miami, for example, would send in case information on an unsolved case-- scene photos, description of the victim (including a detailed victim demographic--very important!), times and dates of the offense(s), weapon used, description of the scene, etc.
A highly trained person--a "profiler" --- who is trained in criminology and psychology, analyzes the information and tries to build a profile of what kind of person could be the offender. They will include age, race, profession, and any other attributes they may have been able to predict from their assessment of the case data. They are often pretty close to being correct.
Because of the program's success, individual state law enforcement agencies, such FDLE (Florida Department of Law Enforcement) have had several of their own investigators trained in this skillset to work within their own agency.
It's an interesting field. Do they "investigate"? As a rule, no. What they do is supplement investigations with their insight, and help investigators narrow down the suspect list.
I hope this helps

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DENNIS’s Answer

Hi Oriana: I see you live in New York. I am a semi-retired lawyer from New York. I did Civil as opposed to Criminal litigation. However, I had a good deal of contact with the New York City PD. Here is what I'd suggest - go to the New York PD museum. Not sure where it is anymore but you can look that up. Then go to 1 Police Plaza and ask for a tour. Then find out if you can intern there. You need to learn the workings of the police. Then you can start to make decisions. Profilers generally do not go out into the scene. They profile the people who did the crime to help locate them. Generally they have backgrounds in psychology. There are many many disorders in this world. Recognizing those afflications and what triggers actors to act upon those feelings. It is not an easy job - plus the things you see can be very troubling! So go to 1 Police Plaza and get involved. They will love to get the help. Jump in, get the feel for police work. Have fun and learn. Remember, experience is the best teacher!

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Hilary’s Answer

I think that is great you are watching Criminal Minds just don’t get too hung up on the vocabulary they are using to describe the “unsub” or perpetrator of the crime they are investigating. The BAU Unit at Quantico study crime and those who commit crime or those who are victimized by the crime. They collect data and use this information to make inferences about who might have committed the crime they are investigating. In order to use data to come to conclusions it should be scientifically collected and analyzed. I am a forensic psychologist getting my PhD. My bachelors in Law Enforcement Is very important in my work to help me navigate through the criminal justice process. Let me know if you have anymore questions. Good luck and study hard!

Hilary recommends the following next steps:

Read books by Dr. Eric Hickey
Read books by Dr. David Canter
Be open minded about what you see on tv.

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