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What Behavioral Profiling is NOT

Behavioral Profiling is, first and foremost, NOT racial profiling. When identifying threats, we shouldn’t focus on race, religion, or ethnicity, but instead on behavior within a given situation. Unfortunately, since 2001, most Americans, including military and law enforcement personnel, have fallen victim to Islamophobia. We constantly look for people who look like “terrorists.” By this we implicitly mean young to middle-aged middle-eastern Muslim males. The problems with this mentality are numerous. First, only a very small percentage of Muslims are extremists, and only a small percentage of those individuals conduct violent acts. Second, criminals and terrorists come in all shapes, sizes, and ages; from all races, ethnicities, and religions; and can be either male or female.  The United States has suffered enough from its fair share of home-grown terrorists, such as Timothy McVeigh, that we should know not to assume that a person is a terrorist because of the way the person looks. Third, by focusing on unimportant things such as race or ethnicity, we miss out on the important behavioral indicators that are necessary in identifying threats. Additionally, when we allow our false pre-conceived notions to give us tunnel vision, we do not see the dangerous individuals who do not fit our “racial profile.”

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