Tuesday, January 26, 1999

West Texas lawmen get FBI tips

By ELIZABETH LANGTON
Avalanche-Journal

FBI agents are teaching West Texas law officers how to use the skills and resources of criminal profilers to solve area cases.

Four agents with the FBI's National Center for the Analysis of Violent Crime in Quantico, Va., are in Lubbock for a two-day criminal profiling course. More than 200 law officers from 65 West Texas agencies attended Monday.

The FBI offers a variety of services to other law enforcement agencies, said Dru Wells, photo: local_newssupervisory special agent from the center.

''We try to function as a human rolodex,'' she said.

A specialty of the center's agents is profiling, or developing an outline of the perpetrators' character based on the crime's nature and the available evidence.

''The profile is for those cases where you don't have a suspect, or you've exhausted your leads,'' Wells said. ''It's just not always appropriate to do right away.''

The profilers have a number of different specialties, including polygraph, forensics, police investigation, sexual assaults, child abuse and psychology.

They combine their skills to re-create the crime and answer critical questions such as, ''Why would this offender do this?'' and ''What type of person would have done things this way?'' Wells said.

A crime scene can reveal telling details into an offender's overall character, she said.

If a killer appears conscious of evidence, plans an escape route, chooses his victim and brings a weapon, it shows he is organized. If a killer leaves clues, selects a victim of opportunity and uses whatever is handy as a weapon, it shows he is impulsive.

''The same qualities carry over to their normal lives,'' Wells said.

Other than profiling, the FBI offers other help including on-site crime scene evaluation, a child abduction response plan and forensic evidence processing.

The center handles between 200 and 300 child abductions each year, and at least as many homicides, Wells said. The agents conduct seminars and training sessions around the world and want agencies to be aware of the assistance they and local FBI offices can offer, she said.

The course is sponsored by the Lubbock Police Department and the regional and Lubbock FBI offices.

Today, the agents will conduct workshop sessions during which officers can present unsolved cases for analysis and input.

The Lubbock Avalanche-Journal 1998/99
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Elizabeth Langton can be contacted at 766-8795 or blangton@windmill.net