Modus Operandi of the Criminal Offender

You learned above that the standard model of policing is a reactive type of policing based on criminal incidents reported to law enforcement. That means that the police investigate crimes when they are reported. Often, the investigation may center on the victim and how that person became a victim.

The victim precipitation theory is based on the premise that “the person who gets hurt significantly contributes to the outbreak of violence” (Karmen, 2001, p. 104).Therefore, it is assumed that victims, either directly or indirectly, contribute to their own victimization by placing themselves at some level of risk. “Different types of offenders target different types of victims; therefore, determining the level of risk the victim engaged in helps us gain an understanding of the unidentified offender” (Schlesinger, 2009, p. 76).

Identifying the circumstances of how the victim came to be involved in a crime helps to understand more clearly the modus operandi (MO) of the perpetrator of the crime. The MO of a criminal offender refers to that persons method of operation, his or her style or patterns. From the crime analysts perspective, it is important in many crimes to identify the MO of both the offender and the victim. The MO of some criminals is to gain a knowledge of the daily routines of their victims.

Victims who place themselves in vulnerable or precarious situations may be more susceptible to becoming victimized. A young woman, for example, who chooses to walk to her car alone in the early morning hours, after the bar closes, may easily fall prey to a criminal whose MO is to stalk the bar district in hopes of finding such a victim.

MOs can range from a burglar always choosing to break into their target locations from a rooftop to a robber choosing a knife as his favorite weapon during an armed robbery.The MO can represent a comfort zone that helps the offender feel safe when committing his or her criminal act.

To the crime analyst, an MO is an investigative indicator that can be identified, mapped, analyzed, and assessed when there is a crime pattern, or crime spree. But identifying the MOs of both the criminal and his or her victims may be used in determining what type of tactical preparations need to be implemented in order to identify or predict the crime pattern—if not the actual individual.

Why Do We Still Have Crime?

After several hundred years of the development of different crime theories and various models of policing, we may well ask this question: Why does crime continue?

We learned in Chapter 2 that crime has been steadily decreasing for more than 25 years and continues to set records for lows in both violent and property' crime. But, of course, we haven’t eliminated either violent crime or property crime. And we may even speculate as to whether it is, indeed, possible to rid our society (or any society) of crime altogether. This may' be as much a philosophical or religious question as it is a criminal justice question. Nonetheless, it should be related to questions that we are constantly' asking: Can we reduce crime to negligible levels? What role should law enforcement play in attempts to continue to reduce crime? Can the technology used in intelligence analysis and tactical crime analysis produce even greater reductions in crime?

It is tempting to resign ourselves to saying that crime is part of human nature, and as long as we produce rational, thinking, often-flawed human beings, we will always need law enforcement and ongoing efforts to keep crime at a minimum. None of the theories we discussed promised that crime could be completely' eliminated. Perhaps it should be the goal of our criminal justice system to strive to do away with criminal offending.

In covering the many theories of the causes of crime in this chapter, we have run the risk of confusing students even more about the reasons why people violate the law. But that is the nature of both criminal justices and humankinds attempt to gain a better understanding of both normal and deviant behavior. It would be wonderful if there was one theory' that explained criminal offending so that we knew who would commit a crime beforehand. At this stage in the ever-evolving state of criminal justice, that is just not possible. However, we did suggest three criminological theories in this chapter as being most relevant for intelligence and tactical crime analysts: (1) rational choice theory, (2) routine activities theory, and (3) criminal personality theory. Learning more about these theories and keeping them in mind whenever you are trying to understand criminal offending— in either general or specific instances—should serve you well.

Also, in this chapter we covered five methods or models of policing that seem most prominent among police departments. They may also help to explain how and why' crime has been decreasing. We are not saying that any one or all five of these police methods are responsible for crime reductions, but they could be related. Again, we strongly encourage you to get to know these policing models in detail so that they' can contribute to your analysis of intelligence, statistics, and criminal problems.

From Chapter 4, we will step away for a few chapters from statistics and analysis to give you some history of the development of policing. We will then be able to put the pieces of our puzzle together in future chapters as we connect crime statistics, criminological theories, policing, models of policing, and intelligence and tactical crime analysis. Ultimately, we will describe how everything comes together to help you see the big picture of how analysis and policing intersect to help prevent crime as well as solving crime problems.

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