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Profiling is common-sense

Reader comment on item: Does the [New York] Police Department Profile? Should It?

Submitted by Alan Nitikman (United States), Jun 13, 2006 at 18:22

Prohibiting "profiling" is as irrational as using it as a primary tool in fighting terrorists. What do our law enforcement professionals do to protect us? They study incidents that have occurred in the past, develop criteria to predict how and where and by whom they are likely to occur again, then attempt to protect endangered venues and individuals, and to intercept likely instigators before they succeed in destroying lives and property.

The first-cut assessment of who might be a likely terrorist would be those who are most likely to belong to an extremist group to which previous terrorists also belonged. Early on, all we may have may be the ethnicity or religious affiliation. if law enforcement is doing their job, they will be coming up with better and better, more specific, and, hopefully, more accurate profiles of their targets, so as better to intercept them before incidents can occur. So "Profiling," as we are using it now, is not just a reincarnation of the Klu Klux Klan in uniforms, but a necessary analytical process, one that saves lives, while inconveniencing and detaining fewer and fewer who are not a danger. Crude profiling, after better, more detailed information has been obtained, is lazy and counter-productive. But, until we have that better information, it is a life-saving strategy and law enforcement should be congratulated, not assaulted, for using the best information they have to protect us.

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