#PROFILING SUSPECTS (it works and we all do it)

Mar 21, 2015 - 0 Comments

Simply put, when profiling is done right and done for all the right reasons, it works, and the world’s a safer place because of it. 

How many times, for instance, have you prevented yourself from becoming a crime statistic when you crossed the street to dodge a rowdy group of people hanging out at the corner, or when you went out of your way to avoid traveling through an economically depressed neighborhood?

The only difference between your split-second good judgments and those of the police is that, based upon their occupational experience and training, they tend to eye everyone suspiciously, regardless of age, race, sex or creed.

And this is particularly true of a cop on the beat or an officer who’s patrolling…

#PROFILING SUSPECTS (it works and we all do it)

Is that 30-something nervous white male the serial killer who’s just hit town?  Is that African American youth running through the alley the black suspect wanted for an armed robbery just down the block?  Is that truant Hispanic child with a dirty face the runaway everybody’s been worried about?  Is that light-skinned young woman in stiletto heels and a micro-miniskirt pimping herself?

A good cop objectively observes everything going on in the ever-changing scenery around them, and is constantly evaluating what they see there by balancing instinct with education.

After all, being both wise and wary so to protect people from harm is law enforcement’s primary task. And it’s only when some police or entire departments singularly suspect certain classes of individuals, to the exclusion of all others, that criminal profiling runs amok.

When that happens -- and now and then it certainly does -- the innocent get snagged unjustly, the guilty run scott free, and society suffers the consequence on both sides of the equation.

But recent cases in such crime capitols as Ferguson Missouri, Madison Wisconsin and New York City, which have been dubbed "clear examples of racial-profiling” and sparked volatile protests, were anything but the acts of racists, and therefore only serve to highlight a proficient profiler’s emerging dilemma.

Why? Because in those confrontations the black men in question were already engaged in dubious activities before police approached them, and some even had known criminal histories.

Without a doubt then, officers had a duty to respond to a potential public threat, and to use deadly force if they deemed it necessary.

The tragic results of the various foolhardy decisions each suspect made when rightly challenged by a lawman have been publicized ad nausea now, yet none of these incidents have been honestly debated from a criminal justice perspective.

Instead, in a disingenuous attempt to color the lethal clashes as “racially-motivated” cop critics point to just one thing: The whiteness of the patrolmen versus the blackness of their “victims.”

And isn’t that profiling?

EPONYMOUS ROX

Have an opinion about this Crime Magazine article? We welcome you to post your comments.

authors: 
Total views: 1165