Over the next few weeks, you are going to see a number of posts here on the site that are focused on furthering our understanding of the human face and what if can offer us as Profilers. For a long time in our course, we only provided a minimal amount of information about what the face reveals due to the fact there are some serious limitations involved in this study that we had to take into consideration.
1. To observe someone’s face, you usually have to be pretty close to the person, going against our principle that “Proximity Negates Skill.” Whenever possible, we advise students to observe an area or a group of people with as much standoff as possible to limit the potential threats that are out there. The closer we have to be in order to recognize someone who plans on doing harm to us, the less skill he needs to actually inflict that harm.
2.Often times true expressions are displayed on the face in what are referred to as micro-expressions. As the name implies, micro-expressions are only displayed on the face for only an extremely short amount of time. Paul Ekman identifies micro-expressions as those that last less than 1/5 of a second (Emotions Revealed, page 15). Without having any video playback capability on patrol, it can be difficult to identify these expressions in real time, limiting our ability to apply any instruction or information we may gain from learning about the face.
Even with these limitations, the face can offer a great deal of information that will help us make better decisions and become more proactive in the face of our enemies.