Behavioral Research and Instruction Unit

Seal of the Behavioral Sciences Unit

The Behavioral Research and Instruction Unit (BRIU)—originally named the Behavioral Science Unit—was established at the FBI Academy in Quantico, Virginia in 1972. The BRIU’s vision is to inspire excellence and leadership in the applied behavioral sciences for the FBI and its partners in order to further the FBI’s strategic priorities

Since its inception, the BRIU has pioneered the development of different tactics, techniques, and procedures adopted as industry standards in behavior-based programs supporting its clients within the law enforcement, intelligence, and military communities.

Behavioral science is concerned with gaining a better understanding of human behavior. The BRIU focuses specifically on criminal human behavior in an attempt to better understand criminals—who they are, how they think, why they do what they do—as a means to help solve crimes and prevent criminal activity. The BRIU’s team of professionals at the National Center for the Analysis of Violent Crime (NCAVC) provides cutting edge training, high-impact research, and academic consultation in the behavioral sciences in support of the FBI’s mission and the work of the broader law enforcement and intelligence communities.

The BRIU staff consists of agents; veteran police officers/federal agents; criminologists; psychologists; criminal investigations instructors; crime analysts; and program management analysts who possess advanced degrees and similar experiences in the behavioral science disciplines of psychology, criminology, sociology, and conflict resolution.

Who the BRIU instructs
The BRIU provides instruction to specialized, behavior-based training for FBI National Academy students, new agents, intelligence analysts, the FBI workforce, and Citizens Academies, as well as domestic and international field schools for the criminal justice, intelligence, military, and academic communities.

What the BRIU teaches
The BRIU teaches on various topics related to the application of behavioral science for law enforcement operations, including: behavioral science for law enforcement; applied criminology; psycho-social aspects of criminal behavior; conflict and crisis management/communication; futuristics in law enforcement; youth violence; death investigations; psycho-social behavior and mindset of gangs; stress management in law enforcement; cyber criminals; and interpersonal violence. For New Agents, the BRIU provides basic instruction on personality traits, behavioral characteristics, and conflict resolution in order to help them better understand themselves and the action of others.

How to request training
Submit a request in writing to the BRIU in coordination with your local FBI field office. The BRIU’s training commitments are based on resource availability and FBI training priorities.

Research performed by the BRIU
The BRIU focuses on developing new and innovative investigative approaches and techniques that will assist the law enforcement and intelligence communities in their execution of operational and training activities. An emphasis is placed on identifying offenders’ behaviors and motivations using a variety of research methodologies. Much of the research conducted is with the collaboration of outside researchers in academia and interagency partners.

Current research projects include, but are not limited to: global hostage-taking; mass victimization; homicide clearance; gangs and gang violence; behavior in the cyber world and emerging technologies; future of law enforcement; firearm offenses; counterintelligence and the insider threat; violent and aberrant behavior; behavioral computer modeling for law enforcement; statement analysis; interviewing and persuasion; and law enforcement stress and stress management.

Futures Working Group
The BRIU leads the collaboration with the Futures Working Group, a partnership of the Society of Police Futurists International and the FBI. The purpose of the Futures Working Group is to develop and encourage others to develop forecasts and strategies to maximize the effectiveness of local, state, federal, and international law enforcement as they strive to maintain peace and security in the 21st century.

Interested in an internship with the BRIU?
The BRIU participates in the FBI’s Volunteer Internship Program which offers full-time internship opportunities to qualified students during the academic year on various internship opportunities. See the Student Center on the website for more details.