By David “Jager” Burnell
Founder and CEO, OPSGEAR®
There is a lot of banter about profiling people based on looks or ethnic origin and whether it is right or not. From my humble perspective this is easy stuff. When a population in a certain geographic area is more prone to produce a violent response, you become “aware” that you could get killed by walking through that area, especially if they do not like your looks. For the sake of the profiling principle let’s call this “geo profiling” for geography. Blend this principle with skin color, or gang colors and signaling or gang signs (often made with the hands and fingers) and you have the environment where I grew up. Now let’s say that you see someone who does not “fit” a friendly profile and they are in your neighborhood. You will filter this information through your database which is referenced from your “experiences” and come up with a threat indicator. Your concerns will be directly tied to your experiences with the colors, signs and geography associated with the threat. What you do with that information now becomes key. You do not have to draw a gun and shoot them immediately; you can simply keep an eye on them and cross the street to avoid potential danger. This is common sense. This is “street” sense. People who figure this out early survive on the battlefield or the streets. Those folks who think profiling has no place in the world we live and believe that all folks have good intentions are called victims of violent crimes.
This does not mean that solely based on race, color, geography or signs that we abuse or attack other people. But the topic is profiling, which means we have to filter information and come up with a danger assessment. If we fail to do this we become a potential casualty instead of a survivor.
To illustrate this point we can evaluate a recent trip I went on to China with one of my operator friends. During this trip I could see clearly the positive aspects of profiling without having to engage everyone you feel is a threat. During that trip we would be heads and eyes up every where we went. We travelled to mainland China, Macau, Hong Kong and Taiwan. As a result we managed to avoid all confrontations but one. The one we missed was identified by us both before it became a problem initially, but the attacker was more motivated than we thought he would be. He actually put his hands on my friends pack to lift something from him. My friend caught his hand in mid air and called out my name. I turned and then after “communicating” in English to him positioned myself in the best position to start throwing little people around. After a few minutes we decided to leave before the police came and we had an even larger language barrier.
Lesson: even with good profiling and being formidable men, bad guys will still exert themselves upon you at times. Worse off is the person who sees (profiles) nothing and believes everyone is out to exercise goodwill. Profiling is a major factor in surviving in the urban setting.
Moral of the story is… be kind and friendly, but also realize those that do not profile are called victims.