Mary Ellen O’Toole, Ph.D. has spent her career studying the criminal mind. One of the most senior profilers for the FBI until her retirement in 2009, Dr. O’Toole has consulted and worked on some of the FBI’s most high profile cases involving infamous criminals.
Dr. O’Toole’s work has included consulting with schools, universities and private corporations involving mass homicides and threats of violence. She consulted on the Columbine High School shooting as well as the shooting at Red Lake Minnesota and the mass school killings in Finland. Dr. O’Toole was the lead researcher and author of the FBI’s seminal work in school violence, The School Shooter: A Threat Assessment Perspective (www.fbi.gov).
Her law enforcement career spanned 32 years, beginning in the San Francisco’s District Attorney’s Office when she was a Criminal Investigator. Dr. O’Toole worked as an FBI agent for 28 years, spending more than half of her Bureau career in the organization’s prestigious Behavioral Analysis Unit (BAU)—the very unit that is the focus of the hit crime series “Criminal Minds.”
During her time in the unit, Dr. O’Toole developed an expertise in Criminal Investigative Analysis (CIA) as well as offender behavior. She has provided assistance to law enforcement and prosecutors on a wide range of violent and criminal behavior, including murder, sexual violence and deviancy, kidnappings, product tampering, arsons and bombings and extortions. She has a unique expertise in the areas of targeted school violence, workplace violence and threat assessment. Dr. O’Toole is also a trained FBI hostage negotiator.
Dr. O’Toole is recognized as the FBI’s leading expert in the area of “psychopathy.” Her work in psychopathy has put her on the forefront of mental health and law enforcement efforts to apply the concepts of this personality disorder to both violent and white collar offenders and their behavior and crime scenes. She lectures internationally on the application of the theory of psychopathy to real life situations. She continues to lecture at the FBI Academy on psychopathy. Dr. O’Toole has served as adjunct faculty to the FBI’s Prestigious Leadership Development Institute (LDI) at the FBI Academy and has lectured on numerous occasions at the Smithsonian Museum about her work in the BAU. Dr. O’Toole is a Fellow with the American Academy of Forensic Sciences. She is a member of the Association of Threat Assessment Professionals (ATAP), the Society for the Scientific Study of Psychopathy (SSSP), and the Society of Former Special Agents of the FBI.