The controversy over profiling demonstrates, at least to me, the absurd thought process used by some political pundits and media-types today. Profiling works. Israel is a perfect example. When is the last time you heard of a terrorist, criminal or mentally ill person hijacking an aircraft in Tel Aviv or causing harm to anyone on an Israeli aircraft? It does not happen. Why? Due in large part to the Israeli’s judicious use of profiling. Profiling is a tool which, when used correctly, can be very powerful in deterring crime. Why any government would refuse to use such a powerful and simple tool to ensure the safety and security of their citizens mystifies me.
We profiled for years when I was with the State Department. They may not want to admit it, but anyone who did not do so put lives at risk. Back in the mid-1980s in Beirut, Muslim Lebanese were the threat. Islamic radicals had blown up our Embassy twice. Christian Lebanese did not murder our people. We did not discriminate, and did not automatically exclude Muslims from jobs or accessing our perimeter on legitimate business, but we certainly took a closer look at any Muslim and questioned him or her very carefully. It was not racism. It was common sense.
Vilifying profiling seems a cause célèbre of many who claim it is racist, violates your constitutional rights and is not necessary. The anti-defamation league defines racism as, “…the hatred of one person by another — or the belief that another person is less than human — because of skin color, language, customs, place of birth or any factor that supposedly reveals the basic nature of that person.” Profiling means, according to Webster, “…the recording and analysis of a person’s psychological and behavioral characteristics, so as to assess or predict their capabilities in a certain sphere or to assist in identifying a particular subgroup of people.” The definitions sound similar. They are not. The phrase, “hatred of one person by another” does not apply to profiling. Allowing law enforcement, security and intelligent officials to use carefully vetted profiles, based on scientific analysis, to help prevent murder, rape, theft and other crimes before they happen only makes sense.
The stop-and-frisk policy of the NYPD demonstrates how good profiling can prevent crime. NYPD statistics demonstrate a significant drop in crime tied directly to the stop-and-frisk policy. Groups and individuals tried repeatedly to stop the policy when it was in effect. These misguided peopled filed suit claiming that the policy violated their constitutional rights. Their efforts through the years were not very successful. Unfortunately, though the courts never forbid using this profiling tool, politics did. Crime rates have started climbing again since the new city hall administration barred police from utilizing stop-and-frisk in their fight against crime.
Profiling mechanics involve looking for predictive indicators that a person plans, or may be in the process of, committing a crime. Body language, incongruities in dress or appearance, acts or behavior consistent with that exhibited by previous terrorist or criminals, all assist law enforcement to “profile” and narrow their efforts towards one group or person to prevent crime.
Political correctness trumps maintaining a safe and free society in the minds of many. We have Kafkaesque enforcement policy that hamstrings the ability of the police and others to keep us safe. Like unilateral disarmament, the bad guys will take advantage of our naivety and we will be less secure and less safe.
Our society must not allow ourselves, if you will permit a cliché, to “throw out the baby with the bathwater.” Disparaging profiling and forbidding its use hurts everyone. Profiling – properly developed, taught and used – can complement other good policing methods and help keep us safe. Without it, we are needlessly crippling ourselves and allowing the criminals and terrorists to win.
Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.
As Vice President of a Security Fusion Center, Bill has provided risk management advice and direction to major Fortune 100 defense industry, ultra high net worth and other clients.
As Global Director for Security, Alem International, Bill planned and directed all facets of the security and risk mitigation strategies for the 2004 Olympic Torch Relay that took place in over 34 countries.
Bill was commissioned as an Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) Officer in the US Army immediately after college.
Mr. Gaskill has a Bachelor of Science degree in Ancient History with a math minor from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.He has a current Top Secret/SCI clearance.He has professional fluency ratings in Spanish, Greek, Hebrew and French, and has a working knowledge of Russian.