Tag Archives: Profiling

Neighborhood Profiling


About 3 weeks ago I posted that I noticed a young man in my neighborhood that I didn’t recognize, was acting strange [by being in places that people don’t normally hang out] and just didn’t seem quite right.

On our community page this afternoon there are reports of two robberies, during the day, where the suspects are young white men who were seen to be smoking.

Two things are clear:

  1. I am scary right.
  2. Profiling is a very Very powerful tool that society uses to enforce acceptable norms.



Just this afternoon I profiled an individual in my neighborhood.

I know most of the people on my street.  To be sure, not by name but by demographic; age, sex, race, sex and such.  I know if someone I see is a member of that street or not.  Further, I know most of their habits and activities; schools, sports, walking or biking – things that they do when I see them.

Coming into my driveway I noticed a kid – 16 to 19- sitting on one of the utilities facility boxes, you know, those green things for the phone or cable company?  No one that age lives within 15 houses either way.  No one I know of in that age isn’t in school or in some activity that time of day.  I’ve never seen a kid smoking a cigarette while walking around the neighborhood.

Or sitting on a utility box on someone else’s property.

It’s 85-90 today here in Raleigh.  The kid was overdressed in cargo pants and a sweatshirt, though no hoodie.

I walked to the end of my driveway, directly approaching him – the box is right across the street from me- and looked him straight in the eye as I approached.  He kept my gaze without blinking.

I got my mail and walked back.

From my windows I watched him finish his smoke, get up and walk away.  I then followed him until he turned the corner.

I did not call 9-1-1 or engage him.  But I followed him.  And I have zero neighborhood watch training.  And if I wanna watch a kid whom I have never seen acting in a way and manner inconsistent with kids in my neighborhood I’m gonna watch him.  And make note of him.

And any claim that I “don’t need to follow him” will be met with a gigantic FU.

By the way.  The boy was white with striking blue eyes; like a Siberian Husky.

This boy was 100% profiled.  And it had 0% to do with his race.

Why We Profile

Because we are a society:

Horseback riders who encountered a missing California teen and her abductor said Sunday that “red flags” went up for them because the pair seemed out of place in the rugged Idaho back country, refusing to give many details on where they were heading or what they were doing.

At a news conference in Boise, the four riders – two men and two women – said they came across 16-year-old Hannah Anderson and 40-year-old James Lee DiMaggio on Wednesday morning.

“I’ve spent a lot of time in the backcountry and usually you don’t run into somebody wearing pajamas,” Mike Young, a 62-year-old resident from Sweet, said about Anderson’s attire.

Young said he had a “gut feeling that they didn’t belong” in the area and when trying to talk to Anderson, she “kind of had a scared look on her face” and kept trying to look away.

“They didn’t fit,” said 71-year-old Mike John, who is a former sheriff’s deputy from Gem County. “He might have been an outdoorsman in California but he was not an outdoorsman in Idaho … Red flags kind of went up.”

John described how he saw DiMaggio sitting on the side of a trail petting a gray cat. He feared that the cat would attract wolves to the area.

“All of their gear [also] looked like it was brand new — that was another flag that this wasn’t normal or natural,” John added.

Because we know where we live and who lives among us.

More Thoughts On Treyvon

The more I think through the Treyvon Martin case, the more convinced I am that any profiling that Zimmerman did was appropriate.  We all profile everyday.

If we see something out of the ordinary that we feel poses a potential threat to our safety, we have a right to notice and take action.  That action might only be to take metal note.  It might be to take literal notes.

It might be to call 9-1-1.

It might be to follow while on the phone with 9-1-1.

I’m here to tell you that if my neighborhood begins to experience heightened levels of crime and I’m driving through my neighborhood, watching or just going to get a quart of milk, and I see someone that I find suspect – I’m following them.


And living in a free society with laws based on liberty of the individual, I get to do that without having to answer to questions of motive or prejudice.

More and more as I talk to people I know and meet I find myself swayed by only one argument as it pertains to the Treyvon Martin case:

Shooting an individual over simple assault is unacceptable.

That is, if one white guy were the victim of another white guy beating him, firing a gun to kill would be inappropriate.  Or, if a woman were being beaten by a man, that woman would be wrong to draw a gun and shoot to kill.

This argument is simple: deadly force to avoid further bodily harm is wrong.

I think that reasonable people can disagree with the conclusion, but it is the one argument I find valid.

Interesting Thought Experiment Combined With Legal Process

scales of justice

So, this story is interesting:

WASHINGTON — Worried the Internal Revenue Service might target you for an audit? You probably should be if you own a small business in one of the wealthy suburbs of Los Angeles.

You might also be wary if you’re a small-business owner in one of dozens of communities near San Francisco, Houston, Atlanta or the District of Columbia.

A new study by the National Taxpayer Advocate used confidential IRS data to show large clusters of potential tax cheats in these five metropolitan areas. The IRS uses the information to target taxpayers for audits.

The taxpayer advocate, Nina Olsen, runs an independent office within the IRS. She got access to the data as part of an effort to learn more about why some taxpayers are more likely to cheat than others.

The study also looked at tax compliance in different industries, and found that people who own construction companies or real estate rental firms may be more likely to fudge their taxes than business owners in other fields.

This whole concept resonates with me.  In my line of work I’m pretty aggressive in trying to sift through data to find root causes and trends.  I get this idea.  On the other hand, is it legal?  Can certain citizens face increased scrutiny, based only on what might be arbitrary profiling?

What is the difference between profiling wealthy citizens in certain industries that live in certain regions with, say, profiling certain people by age, race, nationality and religion?

Or, for a more pertinent subject, profiling citizens in order to reduce gun violence?