Behavioral Science Unit

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Behavioral Science Unit (BSU) was one of the original instructional components of the FBI's Training Division at Quantico, Virginia. Its mission was to develop and provide programs of training, research, and consultation in the behavioral and social sciences for the Federal Bureau of Investigation and law enforcement community that would improve or enhance their administration, operational effectiveness, and understanding of violent crime. The BSU was established in 1972 at the FBI Academy, and was disbanded in 2014.

Through its legacy of training, research, and consultation activities, the BSU developed techniques, tactics, and procedures that have become a staple of behavioral-based programs that support the law enforcement, intelligence, and military communities. It is here where the term "serial killer" was coined and where criminal investigative analysis and "profiling" were developed. Many of these programs eventually developed into stand-alone programs, units, and centers such as the National Center for the Analysis of Violent Crime (NCAVC), Behavioral Analysis Unit (BAU), Undercover Safeguard Unit, Crisis Negotiation Unit, Hostage Rescue Team, and Employee Assistance Unit.

The mission of the BSU was to be the premier unit for developing and facilitating relevant programs of training, research, and consultation in the behavioral sciences for the FBI workforce, including the law enforcement, intelligence, and military communities that will improve their effectiveness in furtherance of the strategic priorities of the FBI. This is accomplished through the creation of innovative bodies of knowledge in specialty areas and applied research on significant behavioral science issues for use in training and consultation in support of academic, program, and operational matters. The BSU conducted specialized and applied training for new FBI Special Agents, Intelligence Analysts, and in-services; the FBI National Academy; domestic and international field schools; the criminal justice community; and national security-related organizations consistent with priorities and available resources.

The BSU conducted training, research, and consultation activities in the following areas: Understanding Terrorist Mindsets and Police Response, Countering Violent Extremism, Relational Policing Practices, Informatics and Emerging Technologies, Global Hostage-Taking, Applied Behavioral Science for Law Enforcement; Conflict and Crisis Management: Theory and Practice; Futuristics and Law Enforcement: Foreseeing, Managing, and Creating the 21st Century; Juvenile Crime and Behavior; Managing Death Investigations; Psycho-Social Behavior, Mindset, and Intelligence Trends of Violent Street and Prison Gangs; Spirituality, Wellness, and Vitality Issues in Law Enforcement Practices; Stress Management in Law Enforcement; Group Dynamics; Problem Solving/Crisis Intervention; Psychology of Perception and Memory; and Psychopathology.

The research programs within the BSU provided evidence based curricula as well as field tested amplified intelligence tools to improve analytics. These structured professional judgment tools were used to identify and measure human belief states, cognitive behavior, potential threat, or deception.

The BSU also housed the Evil Minds Research Project, which was founded in 2008 with the mission to "study serial killer and other offender artifacts for the purpose of developing a deeper understanding of offender motivation, personality, and intent in order to assist and enhance investigative strategies and techniques." Simply put, the vision of the museum was to assist in mitigating and preventing future victimization through understanding the meaning behind offender behavior. The BSU Evil Minds Research Project was relocated from the basement to the library of the FBI Academy. Access to the museum is limited to police personnel, special guests of BSU or other designated persons by appointment only.

The BSU was usurped by the Critical Incident Response Group (CIRG) and was changed to the Behavioral Research and Instruction Unit (BRIU) and is now known as Behavioral Analysis Unit 5 (BAU-5). [1]

In popular culture[edit]

The origin of the FBI's Behavioral Science Unit is dramatized in the 2017 Netflix television series Mindhunter,[2] and set five years later (1977).