Tuesday, February 24, 1998

High-profile, but X-Files it isn't

"People just have a fascination with it" ... profilers Bronwyn Killmier and Kevin Kelm.

By TOM ALLARD

Australia's new elite training program for profilers - investigators who make psychological and behavioural profiles of serial killers and other offenders - will not include workshops on psychic channelling or alien transmutation.

While such skills appear essential to viewers of The X-Files, Millennium and any number of other movies and television shows featuring profilers, the skill base of Australia's criminal profilers is more akin to that of a librarian or data processor.

"I wish I had those trances [like the central character in the Seven Network's Profiler series]. That would make it a lot easier," said Australia's only FBI-trained profiler, Detective Inspector Bronwyn Killmier.

"It sounds very glamorous, but it's really a methodical sifting through information."

That is not to say that the high profile of profilers has had no impact on her. She is the inspiration for a character in crime novelist Jon Cleary's latest effort (A Different Turf) and receives phone inquiries about her work "every day".

"It's seen as quite trendy. We get a lot of young students from high school but you also get graduates, and people just have a fascination with it," she said.

The Australian Bureau of Criminal Intelligence's two-year course - overseen by Inspector Killmier, and run in conjunction with units of the FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) - will involve only five police officers.

They will undergo extensive training in Australia and the United States, centred on developing the research techniques needed to establish a behavioural profile of a serial killer or rapist. Extortionists, bombers, product contaminators and kidnappers are also the subject of a profiler's work.

"The aim of the profiler is to focus the investigation," said Inspector Killmier.

The backpacker murders, the Arnott's extortion case and the granny murders have all involved profiling.

With or without the help of supernormal powers, Special Agent Kevin Kelm from ATF said profiling is neither glamorous nor exact.

"It's tedious, hard, slogging work and it can be very boring, and sometimes you depend on a stroke of luck to solve your case," he said.