FBI Behavioural Analysis Unit -Know More

The FBI Behavioural Analysis Unit started in the year 1974 to apprehend serial offenders through the process of criminal profiling. Criminal Profiling is a process by which the investigator makes deductions about the personality and other traits of the offender by studying the nature of the crime and the crime scene. It is important to understand that profiling only gives broad indications about the characteristics of the potential felon, so it does narrow down the suspect pool, but cannot pinpoint a specific person who fits the profile. Let us read about “FBI Behavioural Analysis Unit”

FBI Behavioural Analysis Unit

FBI Behavioural Analysis Unit

FBI has a branch within the agency known as the National Centre for the Analysis of Violent Crime (NCAVC). Inside this branch, three departments form the Behavioural Analysis Unit: BAU-Counterterrorism/Threat Assessment, BAU-Crimes Against Adults and BAU-Crimes Against Children. The three of them deal with the different aspects of violent crimes and terrorist actions. Many serial killers, terrorists and violent offenders have been caught as a result of the work done by the BAU. Special Agents in this department use their knowledge of forensics, interviewing techniques, profiling and computer-based programs (ViCAP) to catch these criminals when they have a series of unsolved murders, unidentified bodies or a suspicious case. 

Job Description of a Behaviour Analyst 

The Agents working in this department are expected to deconstruct the psychology of a violent criminals to understand their motivations, their next target, the pattern they are following, victimology and their personality traits. They achieve this through case studies, examining the crime scene, and forensic sciences, by using the experimental data provided by law enforcement personnel and case studies provided by a forensic psychologist. Behaviour analysts work in collaboration with federal, local and international law enforcement officers. 

The BAU agents are commonly known as profilers because of their ability to meticulously examine the evidence given to them, create profiles of the potential offenders, and predict the likely course of action of the perpetrator. The FBI profilers analyse thousands of violent crimes, which are then stored in the ViCAP (Violent Criminal Apprehension Program) and other computer databases to solve similar crimes and understand the modus operandi. 

The Duties of a Behaviour Analyst entail: 

  • Recreating the crime scene with the given evidence to understand the modus operandi and the signature of the perpetrator.
  • Partnering with various law enforcement agencies 
  • Creating psychological profiles of the potential criminal to understand their behavioural patterns
  • Interviewing criminals and terrorists to gain insights into their motives and course of action 
  • Maintaining a database of Violent crimes, aberrant actions and terrorist activities for further reference.
  • They provide insights about serial criminals and give details about their personalities, and other characteristics which prove useful in their apprehension. 
  • Develop threat assessments for individuals and groups who pose a danger to public and national safety. 

BAU- 1 (Counterterrorism/Threat Assessment)

The BAU-1 was established to support the threat management task team in threat prevention through behavioural-based operational support, research and training. They try and understand the attacker’s ideologies, motivation, the severity of the threats and other personal factors. 

BAU-1 deals with counterterrorism, Threat assessment and other forensic linguistic services. They have even created a database called the Communicated Threat Assessment Database (CTAD) which is the primary repository for all communicated threats and criminally oriented communications (COC), these are later analysed for probable threats and authorship. 

CTAD was created in the year 2000 to deal with the increasing amount of threat communication and COCs received by the BAU-1 since the mid- 1990s. These threat communications would include notes, encrypted messages, telephonic conversations etc, the database works as a search engine that categorizes and classifies all these communications which facilitate the investigation. The database is also linguistic and behavioural oriented to cross-check for behavioural markers within the text to enable assessment of potential threats. 

BAU-2 (Crimes against Adults)

This department analyses and investigates crimes against adults, these crimes would include murders, killing sprees, mass murders, serial killings, abductions, sexual assault etc. They also look into white-collar crimes, organized crimes and crimes violating civil rights. Some of the ways through which they help the investigation are crime scene analysis, linkage analysis, creating profiles of unknown offenders, interviewing techniques, trial assistance etc. Criminal profiling generally had the following major steps while such:

victimology (the categories of victims chosen by the offender such as prostitutes, college-going students etc.), 

choice of weapon, (choosing a gun over a knife tells about the offender’s level of confidence)

the location,

organisation level (if the crime scene was disorganized and little effort was there to hide the forensic evidence then the individual intelligence can be inferred). 

BAU-3 (Crimes against Children) 

This unit investigates and analyses the violent crimes that take place against children such as child abduction, sexual abuse, sextortion, violent attacks, child trafficking, child sex tourism etc. BAU III reviews the facts of a criminal act and interprets offender behaviour and victim/offender dynamics during the commission of the crime or as displayed at the crime scene which helps in apprehending the perpetrator sooner. 


The work of the Behavioural Analysis unit deals has led to the apprehension of various violent offenders, the mitigation of threats, and ensuring the safety of the public. They analyse the behaviour and personality characteristics of the potential offenders, draw links with other similar crimes and facilitate the investigation as they reduce the suspect pool. The BAU not only comprises special agents, but it also has criminal researchers and other law enforcement officers as part of it. Through their integrated work and effort, BAU has been successful in many of its endeavours to ensure safety and harmony in the public. 

Frequently asked questions
  • How do you become a part of BAU?

You need three to four years of general experience of being a special agent to be even considered for an assignment in the BAU. Even though it is not necessary but an advanced degree in forensics or behavioural sciences and experience with violent crimes increase your chances of being selected. Once your application is accepted you would require a undergo 500 hours of training before joining the Behavioural analysis unit. 

  • What is the salary of a BAU special agent?

Like all Special Agents, field officers in the BAU who are authorized to work in the field receive salaries commensurate with their General Schedule pay grade which may vary from $45771- $93175. 

FBI Behavioural Analysis Unit -Know More

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