Today, Hartford Books Examiner welcomes Pat Brown.
Ms. Brown is a nationally known criminal profiler and the founder and CEO of The Sexual Homicide Exchange (SHE) and The Pat Brown Criminal Profiling Agency. Also a commentator for television and radio, she has appeared on news programs for cable networks such as CNN, FOX, and MSNBC, and is a frequent guest on Nancy Grace, America’s Most Wanted, and The Montel Williams Show. She holds a Master’s Degree in Criminal Justice from Boston University.
Her memoir, The Profiler: My Life Hunting Serial Killers and Psychopaths (Voice, $24.99), written with Bob Andelman, is available in stores today. (You can read Hartford Books Examiner’s full review here.) The book chronicles her career in criminal profiling, debunking popular myths surrounding the topic while simultaneously exposing the failures of the justice system and offering suggestions as to how reform can be made. Says Nancy Grace (author of The Eleventh Victim), “Pat Brown takes us into the very minds of cold-blooded killers. Most people can’t comprehend the `why’ behind murder. Pat, utilizing her background as one of the country’s leading criminal profilers, coaches the reader as to how a killer thinks, reacts, and kills! Incredible!”
Now, Hartford Books Examiner gets inside the mind of Pat Brown…
1) Due to pop culture, many people have misconceptions as to what profilers actually do. Can you debunk some of the myths that have been perpetuated by the entertainment industry?
Oh, Hollywood may make for a great profiing movie, but the representation is terribly far off the mark. For one, most of us aren’t as cute as the female profilers on screen. We don’t have great hair and make-up on the job. No cool music either. We don’t work in labs at all; I have never been in one. We don’t have showdowns with serial killers. We don’t have 24 hours or one month until the next moon to stop the killer. Most of the time he won’t strike again for a year or two and, even if it is sooner, no one knows when and rarely is their some kind of trap set. Cases are usually very cold and we study case files and photos, do crime reconstruction and role play to try to piece back together what happened and who may have done it. Most of the time we are at a desk and sometimes we go into the field to look at locations and to interview. The excitement for profilers is in figuring out the puzzle, not from chasing a killer all over the place (although that WOULD be fun!).
2) You appear quite often on national television and radio as an expert commentator. What do you see as being your role in these shows? Do you ever ask yourself how far your contributions go toward counter-balancing the sensationalism or do you find that to be a topic that’s best left alone?
I have always been determined to tell it like I see it. Part of my job, in my view, is to help people understand how crimes are committed and how people think. I hope that profiling the crime on air may sometimes lead someone to link someone they know to the crime and call in the tip. I also hope to provide safety information to save lives. And I want to make clear the deficiencies in the criminal justice system so more people will fight to change things. As to sensationalism, sometimes I question myself whether we should talk so much about crime on television and dissect everything, but, if the horse is already out of the barn and isn’t returning, then this is a medium we must then use in the best way possible.
3) In THE PROFILER, you open up your case files and present several crimes, the majority of which remain “officially” unsolved. Is it your hope that the book will cause authorities to revisit these cases? Did you (or your publisher) have reservations about publicly naming your suspects? If so, how were you able to resolve those issues?
We did not actually publicly name the suspects. All of the names of suspects and victims are pseudonyms. That information is on the copyright page and is a bit small leading some people to overlook it. I DO hope some of these departments will rethink these cases and maybe push forward on them. But I am not holding my breath. Mostly, I am hoping that folks will begin to see that the system is overwhelmed with unsolved crimes and we need to find ways to change this. I was shocked to find out there were so many and even more disturbed after working case after case to feel my profiling which the detectives told me they thought was great was still not affecting the closure rates because I came in too late.
4) Given your line of work, one might assume that it’s easy to become haunted after seeing the violence that people perpetrate on one another. Did you find the writing process to be cathartic? Were there ever moments of regret where you wished that you could go back in time and do something differently?
I actually do not have a problem with being haunted at all. Sorry to say that the profilers who claim to suffer from “melding with the minds of killers” and “seeing the images of horrible crimes” are either drinking too much or overworking in general or having marital problems! If you can handle the work, you can handle the work. I sleep fine at night and don’t need writing to go through some cathartic process. What I DO get upset about is the injustice of unsolved crimes and the fact that not enough is being done. I don’t actually regret getting into this field at all but I do need a lot more vacations because I AM overworked!
5) In writing about true crime, how carefully must you take into account the feelings of those left behind in the wake of tragedy? How do you balance truth with sensitivity? Have you received feedback in this vein? (If so, can you share what the sentiment has been?)
Oh, this is probably the worst part of it all. This stuff DOES affect me more than the seeing horrible stuff. I am not really entirely comfortable with this and I am conflicted over doing it. On one hand, I just want to say nothing and go do my profiling work. But, on the other hand, I can’t make progress in changing this system if I don’t bring out the truth on what is really happening with unsolved cases and how killers are getting away easily with murder. So, I went ahead with this book and I hope that the victims and families of victims understand how important it is for truth to get out there. I think most will as they have already suffered through years of getting no answers and being ignored. Maybe this book will change something.
With special thanks to Pat Brown for sharing her insider knowledge of criminal profiling and to Rachel Durfee, publicist for Voice, for arranging our interview and providing the review copy of The Profiler.
A related article from Hartford Books Examiner:
The Profiler by Pat Brown (Book review)
Recent articles from Hartford Books Examiner:
Bite-sized book reviews, volume two
Happy (belated) birthday, Nancy Drew…
Borders announces Kids’ ’10 Summer Reading Double Dog Dare