Criminal Investigation Assessment Unit

By Walp, Glenn A.; Murphy, Malcolm L. | The FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin, December 1994 | Go to article overview

Criminal Investigation Assessment Unit

Walp, Glenn A., Murphy, Malcolm L., The FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin

While a young woman slept, two intruders forced their way into the basement of her home in a small Pennsylvania community. They cut off the telephone and electricity. Then, for the next several hours, the subjects sexually assaulted the victim. They finally gagged and bound her in a chair and fled the scene with her vehicle and a small amount of cash. When interviewed by police, the victim was unable to furnish descriptions of her assailants, other than to say that one was taller than the other.

Considering the limited descriptions, the likelihood of apprehending the offenders seemed remote. However, the Pennsylvania State Police had recently established a new unit designed to help solve such cases. Investigators from the Criminal Investigation Assessment (CIA) Unit assisted in the investigation and carefully reviewed the incident and the crime scene. They also reinterviewed the victim with an emphasis on developing behavioral assessments of the offenders.

As a result of their analysis, CIA Unit personnel concluded that one or both of the subjects must have been in the victim's home at some point in the past. Investigators then asked the victim to provide a list of every person known to have entered her home within the past 3 years.

Meanwhile, investigators received a tip that placed an individual in a vehicle similar to the victim's shortly after the assault occurred. An investigation revealed that the driver had a friend whose last name matched the last name of an individual on the victim's list. The name was that of a handyman who had worked at the victim's residence. The investigation focused on the man seen in the vehicle and the handyman's son. Investigators determined that at some point in the past, the handyman must have taken his son with him to work at the victim's house.

The two subjects were arrested. When confronted with the physical and circumstantial evidence that investigators had collected, both offenders pled guilty and were sentenced to lengthy prison terms.

The investigative initiatives employed by the Criminal Investigation Assessment Unit contributed significantly to the apprehension and conviction of these offenders. CIA Unit methods did not supplant the efforts of the assigned case investigators. Rather. they furthered the investigation by providing an assessment of offender behavior during the crime, thus allowing case investigators to limit and focus their search for the assailants.


Background and Composition

In 1987, the first State criminal investigation assessment program in the United States was developed through the mutual efforts of the Pennsylvania State Police and the FBI. Via a special FBI fellowship grant, a Pennsylvania State trooper was assigned temporarily to the FBI Academy where he received training in criminal profiling and other innovative investigative assessment techniques.

On his return to the Pennsylvania State Police, the trooper became the supervisor of the CIA Unit, which at that time consisted of 25 officers. Located within the Bureau of Criminal Investigation, the unit provided specialized service to the 15 county troops of the State police.

In 1992, the unit's primary objective changed from investigative support of troop operations to active involvement in all facets of the investigative process. This included participation in the major crime task forces that had been established in each county troop. CIA Unit officers and troop criminal investigators began working together, thereby expanding the level of knowledge and expertise available to solve each crime.

To accomplish its expanded mission, the CIA Unit significantly augmented its staff. Currently, the unit is comprised of a supervisor, 3 regional coordinators, and 41 criminal investigative assessment officers located throughout the State. The supervisor directs statewide criminal assessment activities and assists in developing and implementing investigative strategies. …

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