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Today more than ever, the word profiling is often thrown around as a means of accusation. Those who say or do something that unsavory in the opinion of a certain group of people are accused of profiling. This could be racial profiling, profiling based on gender, sexual preference, or behavior. In my research paper I plan to examine the policy of ” Stop and Frisk” disecting the arguments both for and against the policy. The common argument against the policy is that it is racial profiling. Therefore, it is important to understand what profiling actually is, and if all profiling is inherently bad.
According to Oxford, profiling is ” The recording and analysis of a person’s psychological and behavioral characteristics, so as to assess or predict their capabilities in a certain sphere or to assist in identifying a particular subgroup of people. ” When people today hear the word profiling, they immediately think of racism or sexism. They think of profiling as a means of discrimination. Not to say this is never true, racial and gender profiling do exist today, however to take a word that can mean many different things and turn it into a word that is directly associated with evil human behavior is irresponsible and unwarranted.
There are several types of profiling used in many different situations, therefore to throw all profiling under an umbrella labeled as evil is unfair. As a matter of fact I would dare to say there are some beneficial types of profiling. Psychological profiling is a detailed description of psychological characteristics of one known individual. This is not always criminal but it is often used in risk assessment. This is a type of profiling that has been very useful in preventing criminal behavior as well as preventing people from harm against themselves. Geological profiling analyzes locations associated with an unknown usually serial offender, it analyzes hot spots of crime. This profiling has helped law enforcement better identify future crime based on location and trends.
Profiling is science, it is mathematics, it is statistics. It is very hard to argue with data and statistics. However, if the narrative around the statistics offends people, it will lead to them ignoring the statistics and jumping straight to criticizing policy. In order to build a fair and complete argument around a policy accused of profiling, it is essential to know what profiling actually is. Profiling has been used by law enforcement, intelligence, healthcare professionals, and mathematicians for decades to improve the quality of their work. So to label all profiling as wrong is ill informed and incorrect.
When it comes to ” Stop and Frisk”, it does fit the definition of profiling. Several types of profiling were incorporated into developing and executing the policy. None of which were racial profiling. They used Geographic profiling to identify high crime at risk neighborhoods. Suspect based profiling was also used, a systematic of data on previous offenders to identify additional offenders. The intent behind the policy was not to stop and frisk every person in sight with darker skin. The complexity of the profiling used in creation of the policy was far more sophisticated than simply finding minorities and frisking them. When arguing against stop and frisk it is important to identify a specific aspect of the policy, whether it be in design or execution.