Helpful Hints: Aberrant Sexual Behavior
From this discussion, it is apparent that law enforcement officers who handle sex crimes must know enough about sexual aberrations to be able to make appropriate judgments about each sexual criminal as an individual. This is true not only for specialists in sex crimes, who are usually trained and experienced, but also for beat patrol officers, especially those in small departments that do not have specialized personnel readily available.
Common misconceptions about sexual criminals include the beliefs that there is a high correlation between brain damage and sexual deviance and that sexual offenders usually suffer from severe mental illness. Furthermore, while hard drugs are rarely a factor in sexual crimes, there appears to be a strong connection between the use of alcohol and deviant sexual behavior, since excess alcohol leads to the lowering of inhibitions.
Although overt aggression is associated with sexual aberration relatively infrequently, hostile fantasies are common. For this reason, police officers should always be alert to the potential for dangerous behavior. In questioning those with sexual aberrations, officers should go beyond the actual behavior and try to find out more about the person’s fantasies to determine if perversions and erotic hatred are present. By doing so, officers can better determine the person’s potential dangerousness.
Police officers should examine their own attitudes toward sexual aberrations and recognize that these offenses result from motives and impulses that are often not understood or controllable, rather than from “moral perversity.” This does not lessen the seriousness of crimes associated with sexual aberrations, but should increase officers’ ability to act professionally and responsibly.
This professionalism also should carry over into contacts with the victims. If they are not treated respectfully and courteously, they may be unwilling to divulge information that could be helpful in identifying and apprehending the offender.
This article is an excerpt from Psychological Aspects of Police Work: An Officer’s Guide to Street Psychology by former police officer and federal agent, Bruce A. Rodgers, PhD.