Chapter 11 Racial Profiling is Stupid; Behavioral Profiling Can Save Your Life
“We at El Al Airlines have used the hand/body search for so many years, but we did it only to suspicious passengers that were interviewed by us. We asked the questions and we were able to determine that there was something wrong with a passenger. Profiling is not that I am choosing that I want to interview them. We don’t have discrimination. Every passenger, I don’t care who he or she is, has to be interviewed by security. We have to be polite. We know how to ask questions. If you want to hide from us, we see the physical changes in your face, suddenly you raise your voice, suddenly your Adam’s apple jumps up and down, you’re nervous. Then we ask, ‘Why are you nervous? I’m doing it for your safety sir or Ma’am.’” – Isaac Yeffet
It should go without saying, but we’ll do so anyway: Racial profiling is stupid. It’s prejudicial, unjustified, and dysfunctional. Behavioral profiling, on the other hand, can save your life. For example, if you’re a Caucasian and approach a group of African American males clustered at a street corner are you in danger? That’s a trick question; there’s no way to know… Race has nothing to do with it. In fact,
chances are good that they are just a group of guys innocently waiting for the light to change so they can safely cross the street on the crosswalk.
But, maybe not…
What if they’re wearing gang colors or tattoos, does that change anything? Choice of clothing is a behavior, they’re self‐identifying with an anti‐social group so it should be concerning, but there’s no way to tell for sure without knowing more about the scenario. Needless to say if it was a bunch of white guys dressed as outlaw bikers it would be equally concerning; it’s not the skin color but rather the distinctive clothing that matters. What if they begin to spread out to surround you, suspiciously reach under their jackets, or suddenly appear tense and angry as you approach? Coordinated flanking movements, fighting stances, intense focus (thousand‐mile stare), posturing, and targeting glances all change the equation. These behaviors are, and should be, concerning regardless of the race, gender, sexual orientation, or ethnicity of the aggressors. Why? Because they are pre‐attack indicators, signals that you’re about to be in serious trouble.
Shifting to one‐on‐one encounters for a moment, as they are more common and somewhat harder to spot than group movements, pre‐attack indicators can include a slight drop of the shoulder, a tensing of the neck, a flaring of the nostrils, rapid eye movements or blinking, or even a puckering of the lips. These subtle signs can be very difficult to spot, yet changes in a threat’s energy are more easily seen. Amateurs and those engaging in social violence will try to send a message of domination, so they get big, red, and loud. They lock eyes so that you will know who beat (or is about to beat) you. A professional, on the other hand, tries to calm him‐ or herself (abdominal breathing, slow smooth movements) and not draw attention. He or she typically looks away just before the attack to check for witnesses. As you can see there are many variations to consider. Consequently, it’s not the specific action or reaction you’re looking for, but rather the change in energy that might indicate peril. Here is a list of danger signs that often precede an attack:…
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