7.09.2011

Investigative Psychology – What Does It Mean And How Can It Help Law Enforcement Investigations? Part II



By Lawrence W. Daly, MSc


In order to understand the usefulness of Investigative Psychology (IP) in the law enforcement responsibilities and accountability, you must learn what the Investigative psychology definition is.

Dr. David Canter and Dr. Donna Youngs, 2009, defined Investigative Psychology (IP) as “is the study of offenders and the processes of apprehending them and bringing them to justice.  It deals with what all those involved in crime and its investigation do, feel and think.  The dominant objective is the understanding of crime in ways that are relevant to the conduct of criminal or civil investigations and subsequent legal proceedings.  As such, IP is concerned with psychological input to the full range of issues that relate to the management, investigation, and prosecution of crime.”


This seems to be a simplistic look at the backbone of what IP is.  However, IP has so much to offer to law enforcement, everyone needs to think about it, dissect it, and make the decision(s) on how to apply it into investigations of any criminal act.

Each time you turn on the television, grab a magazine, listen to the radio, you just can’t get away from it.  Someone has murdered another innocent person.  Sometimes the information shocks you and makes you wonder if someone you know or maybe you yourself will someday become a victim.

Knowing that nothing is guaranteed, specifically your safety, one must become knowledgeable about how crimes are committed and who is committing them.
IP has the ability to allow law enforcement to profile offenders, and even profile serial offenders.

Implementing IP into law enforcement is much needed.  The idea isn’t something the law enforcement officials wish for, no; the need to expend the funds for the training and education is necessary and a competent decision.  So how do law enforcement officials reach the level of competency?

Law enforcement cannot afford to hire a social scientist and/or have a full-time psychologist on staff to help with the major crimes, which occur in the community they are responsible for.  The next best option is to train and educate the law enforcement staff, which works within the department.  The law enforcement officials must adopt a management style, which promotes elevating those officers who are educated and experienced already.

The elevation process comes from identifying those officers who have advanced educational degrees; extensive training in investigating crimes; profiling; interviewing; crime scene investigations and so forth.  Experience may help the elevation process or hurt it, depending on the officer.  Some officers may have a preconceived idea about what an IP Detective’s responsibilities and accountability is.  This could cause the potential IP Detective from understanding the role of the IP Detective.

The importance of implementing IP into the department’s investigative system is having officers who are willing to change the way they do things and/or are willing to learn a new investigative system.

The problem with the IP assessment process is generally management does not have the required skills and education to evaluate any candidate who wants to be considered for the position(s) of the IP detective.  Therefore, the department would have to expend the money on hiring an IP psychologists who would come into the elevation process and question each candidate and assess their answers; evaluate their education, training, and experience.

The need to identify the candidate(s) who should be considered to fill the position of IP Detective is vital to increasing the success of solving crimes in their community.  Prior to the assignment becoming permanent, a training plan needs to be implemented.  This would require the officer to expend time with academia professionals who specialize in IP.  

There would be a need to be specific and make the decision just how long would the officer need to expend with the IP professionals and what would be the costs to the community.  Further, during the academia training, the officer would need to be assigned to another department, which has an IP program.

The best training for the officer is having the ability to observe another IP Detective working in a unit where the only responsibility for that officer is to profile perpetrators of all crimes.  The success of the IP program will be the financial commitment the department is willing to put into it.  In evaluating the program, the law enforcement officials can create a statistical form, which monitors the success of the IP Detectives.

The community deserves the best their law enforcement officials can provide.  This comes about by utilizing the newest investigative methods and techniques, which are available in solving crimes.  IP has been around for years.  Dr. Canter and Youngs are the most recognized experts in the field of IP.  Dr. Canter and Youngs have written many books, articles in journals, performed studies and so forth.  They continue to perform studies in the field of IP, which has created new and innovative methods of investigations.

The next step for you and your community are to address the needs for an IP program with the Local and County Councils.  Most law enforcement officers do not have any idea what an IP program is, what the program is about, and/or what the IP program can do for the apprehension and conviction of a perpetrator.

The questions the City Council and/or County Council will want to know, is the IP program, a program that will solve crimes, which weren’t solvable, if it wasn’t for the IP program.

The research into the IP program should begin today in your community.  It is this author’s belief if the Orange County Sheriff’s Department would have had trained and educated IP Detectives on the Casey Anthony case; the findings might have been different.

Tomorrow, I will continue evaluating just how the IP program can assist law enforcement officials in investigating crimes in their community.  In the meantime, take a moment and research the value of an IP program.  You will be surprised just how successful a skilled IP program can make a difference.

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