Considered another tool in the tool bag of criminal profilers, geographic profiling is defined by the National Institute of Justice as “a technique that can help identify the likely area where a serial offender resides, or other place (e.g. work, girlfriend’s place) that serves as an anchor point or base of operations”.
Software developers have developed several different programs over the years to aid law enforcement officials in developing a geographic profile, but their reliability, validity, and accuracy, among other problems, have come into question many times since they were first utilized. There have been times when these programs have proven very helpful in creating a useful geographic profile that aids law enforcement in solving case, but there have also been times when the geographic profile created proves to be completely incorrect. Having said that, one well-known case that was solved in large part due to this tool was the case of the Hillside Stranglers near Los Angeles, California. Kenneth Bianchi and Angelo Buono were profiled, caught, tried, and convicted of kidnapping, raping, torturing, and killing at least ten young women in 1977 and 1978.
What goes into creating a geographic profile? Geographic profiles use both subjective and objective information from each case to determine the most likely locations of the offender’s residence, work, regular travel routes, and other helpful information. Of course, geographic profiling is used most often, and tends to be most accurate, when working on identifying a serial offender because the location of each crime can be mapped and analyzed. The most commonly used technique is known as Criminal Geographic Targeting (CGT), which uses information related to the location, time, and distance to and from crime scenes to create what is called a jeopardy surface. The jeopardy surface is a color-coded map that shows the most likely locations of the offender’s work, place of residence, and most frequented places.
While no criminal profiling tool is always 100% accurate, as is the case with geographic profiling, they can all prove to be powerful helpers in solving even the most perplexing crimes.
For more info about the Hillside Stranglers, visit http://www.trutv.com/library/crime/serial_killers/predators/stranglers/rampage_1.html and http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/the-hillside-stranglers.