How police crack open criminal minds

Tuesday, 20 January 2004, 3:57 AM EST

The Violent Crime Linkage Analysis System was developed by RCMP Inspector Ron MacKay in the early 1990s. Mr. MacKay, now retired from the force, was the first Canadian officer to be trained as a criminal profiler at an FBI academy in Quantico, Va. He returned to Canada puzzled by the RCMP's unsophisticated system for tracking major crimes.

So, he created a national database of information gathered from major criminal investigations. The database, known as ViCLAS, includes standard police fare such as descriptions of suspects, but also contains details such as any words uttered during the attack, as well as the important geographic clues, such as where a sex attack occurred or where a body was dumped. These elements provide a more complete picture of a suspect's criminal signature, and in many cases the links created by ViCLAS have led to arrests that would previously have been unimaginable.

By Joe Friesen at Globetechnology.

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