Profiling

It was just a short time after the September 11 attacks. I was flying out to see my dad. My flight was due to come in and pick us up at the end of this particular terminal. I arrived early. At the end of the walkway was a payphone. I called my wife to let her know I was at the gate, and to chit chat a short bit before the boarding.

As I looked over to my left, at the gate near 11 o’clock, I noticed three arab looking men in a tight knot, speaking very quietly and highly animated. Looking around further, I noticed three “European males” watching the goings on. It took a minute, but all four of us noticed each other, locked eyes, and nodded slightly. Not even two weeks had passed, and tensions were high. The four of us watched those men, but also kept an eye on others. For me, I was also concerned that someone might go off on the trio without cause, and create a real problem.

As we boarded, we each took seats separated someone evenly along the length of the plane, made sure we had noted each others’ positions, and locked onto the trio. Nothing happened on that trip.

I don’t feel that profiling them was wrong. We knew who did what, and that there was a chance more might make similar efforts. It would have been absolutely correct to broadcast, on 9-11, that young men of middle eastern descent had hijacked a couple planes… be on the lookout. It might have stopped further bloodshed if it were possible. APBs are detailed profiles. The US government profiles us every 10 years in the census. No. I have no issues profiling. In fact, it is an important tool for anyone looking to identify a suspect, locate a criminal on the loose in the neighborhood, or trying to prevent race-based violence. Profiling makes sense where certain classes of crimes are perpetrated by individuals or groups of specific characteristics. What I find funny is how those against this practice have no trouble classifying profilers one way or another, and assume that certain actions will follow attempts at profiling. THEY profile US. Quite laughable, actually.

I encourage people to practice profiling. It is a basic survival instinct that should be honed to prevent mistakes. In one of my my lines of work, I am “marked”, profiled, “scoped”, studied and evaluated as to just how hard it might be to lighten me of the tools of my trade, my wallet and even my life. It’s not as bad as it used to be, in another city, but bad enough. I’ve survived enough encounters to recognize the preceding events. It happens. Learn how to profile. Practice. Do it quietly, and don’t let the nay-sayers talk you out of it. After all, those people won’t be there to save your life when you need it.

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