Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Ruled By Idiocy

The USA is different from many countries in this sense, that we have what we call Federal Laws, State Laws, and in addition, Local Laws. Federal laws sometimes supersede state laws, and state laws supersede local laws in cases when they overlap. It is usually up to the prosecuting agency to sort out the charges, rather than slam the poor schmuck with layers of crime for the same deed.

I don’t have direct wording of “anti-profiling” laws. For one thing, they are defined by the locality, rather than being universal. For example, one organization ( says,

“Profiling refers to the law enforcement practice of the detention, interdiction, or other disparate treatment of an individual on the basis of the racial or ethnic status of such individual. Many communities have adopted laws to deal with this illegal practice, and some make racial profiling training available to their law enforcement agencies.

Racial profiling laws are generally adopted voluntarily and vary by locality. For example, racial profiling laws may require law enforcement officers to report certain
information for analysis …”

I agree with the intent. The problem is, that the implementation is dictated by idiots, and those enforcing it are caught between a rock and a hard place. The rest of us are just simply screwed. Let me demonstrate.

A police officer must show due diligence in enforcing the law. As an example, he must make so many traffic stops, reports of unusual activity, do so many arrests, and so on, per number of hours on duty. I am not saying the he has a quota to fill as such. This is a measure of a number of things. It can support the statistics of the actual crime rate in an area, the effectiveness of the laws, the competence of the officer, his willingness to be impartial, and so on. Often this is used in his evaluation for promotion. This means, he cannot sit on his ass and let crime come to him when he is on the job. That happens when he gets a call from dispatch, but that’s just part of what he does. He is expected to find and confront crime.

Some organizations have classes to teach officers to deal with crime without being “racist”, which is the intent behind the profiling laws. Fine, we can all learn a few things on our jobs.

Let’s take a step back for the moment and look at the TSA (Transportation Security Administration in the USA) approach. I don’t have the verbiage of their directive for airport security, but I am the recipient of it. My wife travels by air about twice a year. Without knowing her in person, any sane and rational individual looking at her would conclude the following:
“This person is extremely unlikely to be a would-be terrorist who carries weapons or explosives onto an aircraft for the purpose of blowing up herself along with fellow passengers.”

This conclusion would be based on some observation by the security personnel at the gates: X-ray shows no dangerous substance or object, she has red hair, freckles, friendly demeanor, and the only things she might be discreetly hiding are her clothing are her natural curves. In other words, she looks like she is about any kid’s mom or some kids’ grandma. The above conclusion is based on statistics and feelings. I actually don’t have the statistics on the ethnicity or personal appearance of actual and foiled terrorists. Similarly, I don’t remember ever reading my wife’s personal description as one of them. OK, maybe some years ago between the Irish factions that might have come up, but even there, come on, it’s far-fetched.

The idiotic avoidance of profiling by TSA is following an administrative rule. Consequently, my curvaceous wife goes through body search to make sure that the bumps and lumps under her clothes are part of her body. I would hate to think what women, or women-wannabies who wear artificial enhancements would go through trying to prove that the lumps are not plastique (explosives), but just some silicone or other foam substance.

I would approve pulling some person out of the queue at the gate because he fits the profile of a terrorist. Law enforcement agencies have built some expertise based on profiling, which in turn is based on statistics obtained on crimes and criminals. But no, the idiot administrators who make these rules, choose to ignore that accumulated wisdom, one that could save your ass when some terrorist is not picked out of the line based on his profile. They would rather be politically correct to cover their stupid asses, than to save yours and mine, and at the same time subject most of us to the inconvenience of body searches and the confiscation of fingernail clippers and gel toothpaste.

Getting back to the police officer on the street … I dare these bleeding heart politically correct policy makers to do the following:

  • Go through background check in order to be accepted into some police academy for training. Prior arrests for drunk driving, drug usage, any felony will disqualify you (too bad the same criteria are not used for our elected representatives in congress and the presidency).
  • Go through police training and graduate with enough credentials to be considered by a police agency.
  • Get accredited by an organization of your peers so that you can be certified as a police officer.
  • Get a job with a police agency.
  • Go through on the job training and be evaluated by one of your superiors such that you can be qualified to be on your own once on the job.
  • Be dumped into a crime-ridden environment where the residents will not support you even if you are on their side, and the criminals will shoot you on sight.
  • Remain impartial in your administration of the law under all circumstances.
  • Do not engage in profiling even if it means going against your other requirements to enforce the law. This is because you would be sued, ostracized, could lose your job, and be kept out of law enforcement afterward.
By the way, these are the hurdles our officers in my state must pass with flying colors to become and remain on the job.

So, let’s say that you are a police officer in a neighborhood that is basically white middle class. You see a white young man getting out of a car, looking nervous. He is wearing gloves. His jacket is zipped up to the neck. He has a knit cap pulled down to his eyes, wears sunglasses although it is nighttime. He walks into the convenience store across the street. Regardless of your color as a police officer, you should report your observation as you furtively cross the street and observe the situation. If your “profiling” was wrong, and this young man is simply cold, has light sensitive eyes, and came in only to buy a bottle of eye remedy, all is well. Then again, he could be bent on a crime, in which case you are in a good position to do what you are there to do.

Let’s switch the ethnicity of the young man to something other than white. Suddenly, you must contend with conflicting directives. On the one hand, the “profile” of the young man suggests what it did before. On the other hand, “anti profiling rules” kick in, and you must wait until the crime does take place even before reporting your observations. Meanwhile, the old adage, “If it talks like a duck, walks like a duck, looks like a duck, it’s a duck” is amended to consider the color of the duck. This is where idiocy rules.

One more thing is blatant. In law enforcement, assuming honest execution of laws, no person will be stopped, questioned, or detained without probable cause. This is based on the fourth amendment to our constitution. In laymen’s terms, a police officer will not stop and interrogate some person on a whim. The officer either has a warrant, observed an illegal act, or he must have probable cause to investigate, and be able to prove it to a judge. This is sometimes glossed over when doing, for example, roadblocks during holidays to test drivers’ sobriety. However, even then, all drivers are stopped and interviewed similarly, so it is not an arbitrary search and seizure or profiling. This is not true with respect to airport securities. Those people will take any passenger on a whim, out of all the others to subject him to search totally without reason, regardless of whether his profile fits that of a terrorist. Maybe they take every twelfth female, or every twenty-fifth toddler. Who knows? They do this to prove that they are not racially motivated, and that they are not using appearance for “profiling” regardless of how the profile might otherwise fit.

As I said, idiocy rules.

1 comment:

Thomas said...

I couldn't agree more. If someone has a one way ticket on a flight, is reading the Koran, and seems to be a bit nervous, the count needs to put on the backburner.