Racial Profiling Necessary Evil or Just Plain Wrong
This article may will irritate or offend many, but in my 18 year experience in law enforcement and anti-terrorism have shown that certain aspects of racial profiling work while others only hinder. I welcome discussion on this matter as this is something that effects so many. Let this be the be an initiation to the art of discussion and debate a truly lost art.
In the time since 9/11 our country has changed, not the world as many say, since most of the rest of the world has been dealing with terrorism since post world war II. Though there are many reasons in which people resort to terrorism, there are three main reasons: politics, religion or money. In this article I will discuss all three.
As many Americans learned on 9/11 terrorism is the use is the use of fear and terror to disrupt daily life for gains in any of the three areas. Now to fully comprehend how these methods can be effective we need to move to 2006 when Al Qaeda exploded several bombs throughout Spain to have their troops removed from Iraq. Not mare than a month later the Spanish troops were on their way home. The only problem with this is that once a government gives in to terrorist demands it leaves itself open to further demands and more terror to gain additional territory in the political climate.
Since the Spanish removal of its troops from Iraq the Basque terrorist group ETA has virtually cancelled the cease fire/peace treaty with Spain because many of its more radical factions believe that they can get more concessions of they use more violent actions against Spain, The unwanted consequence that occurs many times is that though they gave in to one group and are now left alone others may use the same tactics to gain ground hence causing a vicious cycle that would never end. This is why not giving in to terrorists is so important.
Terrorism as I mentioned can be used for political, religious or monetary gain. Though the first two are in the spot light the second is the most prevalent in the US today.
Political and religious terrorism invade our TV’s night and day and since these two are relatively new to the US they are the one most in our minds. The third though more common, since we have been dealing with it since the 60’s we just see it as crime, if you haven’t figured it out, it is gang violence.
If you don’t agree please read the definition of terrorism again; “To disrupt ones daily life activities through the use of violence and terror.” Anytime someone sells their house or moves from a neighborhood because of the increase in gang violence, or is afraid to go out at night because of the violence, they are victims of terrorism.
How Do We Protect Ourselves, By Profiling!
Now here is where some may get offended; as most street cops will tell you, profiling is a must. They don’t write it in their reports as profiling but as “fitting the description of.” This is nothing more than a politically correct way of saying profiling.
Here is a scenario to think about, it happened to me and what would you have done? In a upper middle class neighborhood where the average household incomes are in the six digits, at approximately midnight a older model lowered Chevy Impala with five teens wearing what looked like gang colors were parked in a visitor parking space. No one was getting out of the car, it was just parked there. What would you do?
I will tell you what I did, I notified another officer neighbor and we confronted the individuals. They were all minorities (As am I) they were sporting thuggish attitudes and a baseball bat was in plain view. When asked what they were doing they couldn’t give a straight answer and started with even more attitudes. We called local on duty cops who ran them; two out of the five had outstanding warrants and the rest have prior arrests for burglary, larceny and battery.
I profiled these individuals, not by race but appearance, attitudes and patterns of actions. They obviously could have been visiting someone, but if none had the name of whom they were there to see. In addition, the fact they were sitting in a car in a group, it just didn’t fit. Remember, if it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck and poops like a duck, chances are it is a duck.
Let’s transfer this to the other forms of terrorism. Just because someone is Middle Eastern doesn’t make them a terrorist, but it does increase the chances that they are. Now if I get on a plane have an individual of Middle Eastern descent mumbling prayers sweating bullets, smelling like flower water and if they are male they have shaved off all facial hair, this individual is the duck. Why? Well to properly profile, you can’t just profile their race but also the actions that make them a threat. The cumulative numbers of identifiers are sufficient to raise great concern,
For profiling to be done correctly it cannot be based solely on race but on actions and appearances. This is why many officers have gotten into trouble in the past, not because they have been wrong, but they have not known how to explain how they knew the individual or individuals they were questioning, stopping or even chasing was a threat outside of race. The non-race characteristics were present they just didn’t know how to explain it.
Unfortunately many organizations rather than trying to determine what really happened would first make a media circus to taint the officers and their departments or agency’s. The part that is never revealed is that many times when the cases are viewed by the State or US Attorney’s office they charges against these officers are dropped, yet the media nor these organizations will recant or tell the whole story.
Profiling is something that if done using only racial profiling is incorrect and can even be dangerous. Underestimating anyone can cost an officer or an agent their life. This is why it is so important to understand who and what your prey is. Yes prey, because it is the law enforcement professional’s job to hunt these individuals down and anything that is hunted is prey.
It is also imperative that law enforcement professionals learn to verbalize and write their reports in a manner that properly justify and explain their suspicions. If they don not they give organizations ammunition to make them their agency or department’s look bad.
Finally, terrorism no matter its source is something that needs to be dealt with severely and swiftly. Until we start dealing with gang violence in the same manner that we deal with the Bloods and MS-13 it will be difficult to get an upper hand on gang violence. I assure that once these individual begin to be treated as a threat to our national security and charged in federal courts with federal sentences then the luster teens have for these organizations will be lost.