Starting a Behavioral Science Unit (BSU) in local law enforcement would benefit the community in many areas. Criminology and psychology working together can help in understanding crime that is happening in our society as well as in our own communities giving better means of attending to victims, law enforcement as well as the criminals. The study of behavior began in the late 1800’s but it was through the work of B. F. Skinner. Behavior theory is the basis for behavior modification and one approached used in institutionalized and non institutionalized settings for changing behavior.
The primary thesis is that all behavior is learned and can be unlearned. The approach is concerned with observable behavior in contrast to the traditional psychoanalytic emphasis on deep, underlying personality problem that must be uncovered and treated. Behavior theory is based on the belief that it is not the unconscious that is important but, rather, the behavior, which can be observed and manipulated. It is assumed that neurotic symptoms and some deviant behavior are acquired through an unfortunate quirk of learning and are rewarding to the patient.
The undesirable behavior can be eliminated, modified, or replaced by taking away the reward value or by rewarding a more appropriate behavior that is incompatible with the deviant one. It is argued that behavior is controlled by its consequences. In dealing directly with behaviors that are undesirable, behavioral therapy attempts to change the person’s long-established patterns of response to himself or herself and to others (Schwartz, 1989). The starting of the BSU would only help to strengthen this theory.
The unit should be staffed with individuals that have an educational background that had strength in the area of social psychology for the unit to give greatest benefit. Social psychology is the scientific study of how the thoughts, feelings and behaviors of one individual are influenced by the real, imagined, or inferred behavior or characteristics of other people. The focus of social psychology is on social cognition, attitudes, social influence and social action (Miller, 1984).
Certified psychologists in counseling should be incorporated in requirements for employment. Depending on the budget for the program at least 2 psychologists on call for smaller departments to having a full time psychologist with a staff working for larger departments. This type of unit should be considered a focus on prevention of crime in and around the community. Peacemaking criminology would be the efforts of this unit. With this it focuses on the prevention rather than the repression of crime.
Although crime prevention often means different things to different people, practitioners in the public health community have delineated three general approaches that I would like to use for this discussion: primary, secondary, and tertiary prevention (Moore, 1995). Primary prevention attempts to keep criminal behavior from arising in the first place; it is directed at the entire community and not just at individuals who are seeking or who need treatment.
Secondary prevention concentrates on early identification and treatment of vulnerable or at risk youths, and tertiary prevention entails interventions that protect society from offenders and that reduce the likelihood of recidivist behavior. The most effective prevention strategy is one that combines all three modalities. Efforts to address the social disorganization often found in inner-city areas will also be required.
We need to put an end to racially segregated and densely populated housing projects that concentrate poor minorities, socially isolating them from the middle class and depriving them of the resources necessary for stable communities: strong families and positive role models that reinforce conventional values and provide networks of informal social control. Well funded investments like a Behavioral Science Unit can better refer the part of society most in need to the social programs best suited for the individual or individuals (Barkan, 1997).
Community based corrections, facilities and programs from those that may be located in the community but are not, strictly speaking, community based such as BSU will help the society as a whole. The degree to which a corrections stem is community based can be measured by the frequency, quality and duration of community relationships as well as by the number of commitments to large state institutions, the extent to which other community services are used, and the degree of involvement by local groups and individuals.
Some community correctional centers comprise a wide variety of programs including residential and nonresidential facilities (Miller, 1984). The BSU can help to bridge the gap law enforcement has with these larger community correctional centers. Social scientists continue to work toward understanding the causes of crime. Some look for a general theory to explain all crime; some of those approaches that look at the social structure or social structure theory. What we do know about crime is that men commit the most, but that some crimes have been increasing among women.
We know that most crimes are committed by persons who are mobile residentially and who live in a large city. . We know that among juveniles, those who are bonded closely to their families and schools are less likely to commit delinquent acts or crimes than those who are not bonded. We know that those who are unemployed and hovering at the bottom of society’s social class structure are more likely to be involved in property crimes than those who are at the top of the social structure.
But that knowledge of the serious property crimes as defined by the FBI must be considered along with data about white collar crime. This is where the Behavioral Science Unit would be very helpful to local law enforcement the most. Helping the officers to better understand just who they are trained to deal with, criminals (Messner & Rosenfeld, 2001). Biologists and chemists were not the only professionals to link behavior to physical characteristics. Some early psychologists attempted to explain criminal behavior by means of the inherited trait we call intelligence.
But the social psychologist look at environment, social interaction as well as biological to look for answers to behaviors and possible ways of deterrence. A society that permits deviation can expect negative deviation or crime. Laws emerge because societies understand the need to institute a more formal system of social control. Behavioral theory helps to make the formal system flow more easily and work more efficiently. Laws emerge out of this consensus.
Laws are enacted by the group in power as a means of controlling those not in powers. Criminals do not differ necessarily from non criminals, but the difference may be in the way society reacts to their behavior. That is why a Behavior Science Unit incorporated into law enforcement offices will only increase the efficiency of the ability of that department to effectively enforce the laws our society has created and to connect the community to these offices in an effort to improve crime in and around the surrounding communities.