Am I An Expert Yet?
I have been asked the exact same question at the end of every class I’ve taught: “I want to become a better profiler, so where can I go to learn more about this?” This site is one such place and we can recommend a number of books that will help you out. Before we do that though, the question I have for you is why? What’s the ultimate goal?
For some of you, including myself, there is no end. You could easily spend the next decade just reading the vast amount of books and journal articles out there and still find new ways to apply the skills that they teach you. But there has to be some sort of interim goal to guide your efforts, right? It was only a few days ago that I got asked a question that made me realize the first step that every new profiler needs to strive for.
I had just wrapped up an instructor development session with a few of my instructors at Pizza Port and was recapping it with my girlfriend when she asked me, “If you saw something about to happen, would you stop it or let it play out to confirm your prediction?” The Marine in me immediately said of course I would prevent it. But she stopped me, reminding me that she said before the act happened. That took a minute to think through.
Just like the paramedic who is always finding himself at the scene of an accident even on his days off, the more time you spend observing people will lead you to finding anomalies much more frequently. What will you do when you identify a criminal before he robs the store? Or a man about to hit his wife? Or a kid about to tag the wall? Or the parties in a drug deal before the exchange takes place? This is one element that will make you an expert. Not looking back after the act takes place and saying “I knew that was going to happen,” but before it goes down stating, “This is about to happen.” Are you confident enough in your prediction that you would stop the action before it takes place?
We don’t teach anything in our course that you haven’t already done in your life. Unless you have been blind since birth, you have visually observed people before – so you have read body language. All that we do is simply provide you with some new words to classify what you see and a few different ways to analyze those observations. What we can’t give you is the confidence to stand behind your prediction and believe in it so strongly that you don’t wait to see the IED go off before you take action. No amount of reading will get you to this level alone. It can only come with practice.
That’s your new goal.
Keep practicing until you reach that level of confidence in your predictions here in the states so that, when you are doing it in real time while deployed, you don’t waste valuable time questioning what you know is about to happen.