Everybody profiles. Whether people will admit it or not, it’s human nature.

     In 1999, after I’d published a Miami Herald article justifying the act of profiling in some circumstances, I was interviewed by ABC’s John Stossel who was doing a 20/20 program on the topic. I soon realized he was formulating questions designed to make me seem racist. I was telling him that, in certain circumstances, profiling is a necessary element for effective police work.  I turned the tables and posed a question back. 

     “John, when you first heard about the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, and the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995, what was the first thing that came into your mind?”

     His eyebrows lifted.  “Arabs,” he said. 

     “John, you just profiled.”

     The producer shouted, “Cut!”

     The interview never aired. But I had made my point.

     Sometimes, suspicion can be hard to define. Body language. Dress. Movement. Yet, suspicion is, and should be, an integral part of policing.

     A car weaving across lanes of traffic after midnight is a profile for drunk driving.  A parade of shoddy looking men and women frequenting a tenement apartment at all hours of the night is a possible profile for drug activity. A derelict, any color, stumbling around filthy and half-dressed in an upscale housing development is a profile, a sign that something is out of place. Two teenage kids cruising around in a $70,000 car, where ninety-nine percent of the residents are another ethnic/racial make-up, is a profile.  Sorry.

     If crimes have been reported describing a Mid-eastern looking male, black beard, mid-east accent, should we stop and frisk all redheads, pimple-faced teens and one-legged war veterans, just to be fair?

     George Zimmerman’s neighborhood had been victimized by a number of thefts and break-ins. Judging by those who had been apprehended and/or under suspicion, the profile of the perpetrators were young black males.

     In 1979-81, Atlanta’s serial child killer was profiled by possible witnesses to be a young black male. The cops used that profile to pursue the investigation. That’s good police work.

     In order to appease the Islamic world, American airports routinely grope and search little grandmas from Iowa, wheelchair cripples, girl scouts and even celebrities to show how the authorities are not profiling Muslims or mid-eastern people. Yet, in truth, 97 percent of all international terrorism is rooted in Islam.

     We could be adopting the model of the safest airline system in the world; El Al. Israel makes no apologies. They do not grope or X-ray every man, woman and child. They follow a few simple rules:

     1) Agents ask passengers a short series of questions — four or five — to determine origin, nationality and other factors, then observe the physical manner and characteristics. Though unspoken, yet in truth, Muslims and/or Arabs will get a second look before non-Muslims. If there is any doubts about a passenger, they X-ray or search further.

     2) An armed Air Marshal is aboard every flight. Terrorists know this in advance. It changes the game plan for terrorists knowing that armed security is on board.

     Israel is hated throughout the Arab states. Yet, El Al has never had a terror attack.

     Bottom line:. Profiling works. Israel profiles passengers, especially Muslims. Why? Because Islamic radicalism is the profile for international terrorists.

     Indiscriminate profiling based on race is absolutely unacceptable. But when a series of crimes have been linked to a certain description, which includes race, police would be remiss in doing their job if they did not profile. Profiling solves crime, prevents crime and makes our community safer. That’s the job of security and police.

     Police officers and security personnel of the 21st century walk an insidious tightrope, teetering between doing their jobs and protecting their butts, “damned if you do, damned if you don’t.”  I subscribe to the old adage: Better safe than sorry.  Better to harass a few people now and then if it translates to protecting innocent people from rape, robbery and murder.  Isn’t that what a cop is paid for?  

     People who are fast to accuse and put cops on the defensive are not serving their communities. They are contributing to law enforcement paranoia and their reluctance to be proactive.

     Meanwhile, the airport experience could be streamlined and made more efficient. Homeland Security and the TSA could learn a lot from the success of others.

     No. That would be intelligent.

Click here: The Safest Airline – CBS News


  1. Joe K. September 23, 2013 at 2:57 am #

    Hello Marshall,
    Life’s experiences are brought to the task @ hand: that is profiling.
    PC has proven to be a deadly disaster as evidenced recently @ Washington Navy Yard shootings by Aaron Alexis.
    Why didn’t the navy act on the PD report submitted about the shooter? Any doubt?
    Not in my mind!

  2. Charlie September 23, 2013 at 10:17 am #

    I totally agree with you Marshall. We profile our friends. We profile our enemies. We profile our clothing, the food we eat, the car we drive, the house we buy, the area in which we choose to live and the list goes on. You are correct in stating that profiling is human nature. The liberal deomcrats would have us believe that to profile is to be racist. Well, that’s why they are democrats and I’m an independent.

    • Edward A. Hensley September 24, 2013 at 12:47 am #

      And the media profiles a Remington 870 Pump Shotgun
      into an AR-15, as the AR/AK series of semi auto rifles are the bad guns,
      for civilians to legally own. Big 5 Sporting Goods quit selling nasty old
      handguns about 25 years ago but still have specials on Mossberg Pump
      12 Ga. Shotguns for home defense. As tragically just demonstrated at
      the Navy Yard, the short barrel 12 Ga. pump or semi-auto is no slouch
      as a mass murder tool. MSM ignores that to chase a ban on AR/AKs.

  3. Donald September 23, 2013 at 10:26 am #

    Our airport screening is a joke. We could learn a lot from Israel’s airport procedures. The last time I was in Israel their security people completely unpacked my luggage. I don’t know what they were looking for but I do know they were thorough. Was it inconvenient? Yes. Did I mind? No. It made me feel even safer when I got on the airplane.

    In the U.S. people seem to be offended when a security agent wants to pat them down. I don’t know why they would feel offended. I have an implanted defibrillator. I’ve been getting pat downs for over ten years. They are a minor inconvenience.

    The fact that virtually every terrorist act in the last 20 years has been the work of radical Arab Muslims ought to tell us something. Profiling might have saved some lives during that 20 years, but it appears we think it’s better to be politically correct than to be safe.

  4. Irma September 23, 2013 at 11:29 am #

    Marshall, excellent article. Wish it could be read by everyone in America.

  5. Charlie September 23, 2013 at 11:47 am #

    So glad you have the guts to tackle this subject straight up.
    I’ve long been a believer in the old adage “If it looks like a duck, waddles like a duck and quacks like a duck” ? GUESS WHAT !

  6. Tom September 23, 2013 at 12:13 pm #

    A couple of years ago, my girlfriend and I were flying out of the small airport in Missoula, Montana, and we witnessed the most ridiculous thing. Security had separated a wheelchair confined elderly lady from the rest of us, and was giving her the third degree. She looked to be in much pain as they kept making her stand up and pass thru the metal detector several times on foot, then gave her a lengthy pat-down. She could barely stand up, looking to have severe arthritic stiffness and pain, and we were afraid that she was going to fall. It was heartbreaking to watch this unfold, and I took pictures of the scene thru the glass partitions, as I angrily mumbled something about “those damn muslims” who caused all of us to have to go thru this, and the vast stupidity of the TSA and their policies that require this poor lady to have to endure this kind of violation and abuse.
    Thank you, Marshall, for keeping this subject alive, and adding sensibility to it. Hopefully someday sensibility will replace political correctness in all of our law enforcement policies.

  7. Larry Tate, MD September 23, 2013 at 12:57 pm #

    Spot on Marshall. I agree with Irma, this needs to be read by every American. As the Eagles song so aptly states: “Get over it” Get over it.” Profiling that is because it is part of life and the better you are at it the safer and better your life is. It provides for the best decision making for the circumstances you find yourself in.

  8. Shirley W September 23, 2013 at 1:09 pm #

    Yes, you are correct. We all do ‘profiling’. If we are walking and a young person runs toward us with a woman’s handbag on his/her arm, we would assume–purse snatcher–and hold tighter to our purse.
    Especially now, we have to live defensively.
    I want to feel safe when I fly. Go ahead, search this old lady.

  9. Steve Gure September 23, 2013 at 1:38 pm #

    You just defined common sense which is so lacking nowdays. The police ask the public help in locating or apprehending a perpetrator of a crime. They send out a dfescription. Hight ,weight clothing etc. Everything but race. Was he or she white or black? It just is not politicaly correct. Where is the common sense?

  10. ROBERT L. ELLIOTT September 23, 2013 at 3:03 pm #


  11. Charlie D. September 23, 2013 at 3:29 pm #


    If you have norhing to “hide”, what’s wrong with profiling?

    It’s only those who might be a deterant to our society who are upset and against profiling and having “big brother” keeping track of our actions. The findings and back ground must be kept “secret”, and only released when and if there’s a “problem” that can be solved quickly and inhibiting harm to those of us who are being targeted.

    We now have an open society whether we like it bor not! Since the technology is there, it can quickly be expanded from initial profiling to encompas the full nature of those with ill regarded intentions.

    Those who are the “rightous” have nothing to hide and should be thankful of profiling and other means of separating the right from the wrong!

    Charlie D.

  12. Patti McBride September 23, 2013 at 3:30 pm #


  13. Bob James September 23, 2013 at 4:02 pm #


    You are 100% correct. Profiling for criminals and terrorists works. It is the merest common sense. But when the apostles of political correctness subvert the common sense of criminal/terrorist profiling, it can have disastrous consequences. Serious ethnic and racial profiling such as El Al airlines does without apology very likely could have prevented 9/11.

    We know that in the early morning hours of September 11, 2001, five young, swarthy, Mid-Eastern Arabic males arrived at Logan airport in Boston and bought one-way tickets to Los Angeles just before the flight was ready to take off. They paid cash for their tickets and checked no luggage. These five men clearly fit the profile of potential terrorists. They should have been detained, questioned and searched immediately. At the very least, they would have had to explain why they were all carrying razor-sharp boxcutters. But recently Arabs had been suing the airlines for “racial profiling” if they were detained for further investigation prior to boarding. Could this be the reason no one stopped to question these five Arabic-looking Muslim men, for fear of being sued for “racial profiling? We can only guess. Of course, these five men went on to hijack the airplane, murder the flight crew with their carry-on boxcutters and fly the jumbo jet into one of our twin towers.

    Just a little serious El Al type of racial and ethnic terrorist profiling on that morning could possibly have stopped all 19 hijackers from boarding those four airplanes and September 11, 2001 would have been just another day on the calendar.

  14. Alice K September 23, 2013 at 8:05 pm #

    For those who are not on Marshall’s email list, I suggest you sign up for his indepth writings on a variety of topics. He’s our local county author who has a great deal of ‘insight’ on the ‘human species’ since he was with the Miami police dept. for 30 yrs. before ‘retiring’ here in Melbourne. I found the CBS article aired back in 2009 interesting as well. Do you know what’s the safest a/l in the world??? NO question: El Al, Israel’s natl. airline, who tried to ‘teach’ America how to set up security at our a/ports, but ‘our ‘leadership wanted nothing to do with logic and common sense’….we are burdened with TSA’s who really do nothing about profiling or keeping evil people off our airlines. We really do not have the same attitude that folks who fly the Israeli airline….and that is:
    “Today’s the day there will be an attack”….& they profile, big time! Its really the ONLY common sense thing to do! Alice

  15. Lee Martines September 24, 2013 at 2:20 am #

    If we don’t get smart and elect an administration that challenges, rather than kowtows, to the Muslim threat against our country and the world, we are facing a bleak future. Give me a politician like Col. Allen West, who understands the Quran, understands Muslims, and is not afraid to stand up for profiling, and against sharia and unwarranted demands of the Muslim populace. We currently have a president who is at the least, a lily-livered Muslim sympathiser and possibly a full-blown member of the Muslim Brotherhood. Hillary Clinton’s lesbian lover Huma Abedin has connections to both the Muslim Brotherhood and Sisterhood through family members and makes Hillary’s patriotism to the United States very suspect. Let’s make sure we get American patriotism back in the White House and in all of Washington D. C.

  16. J.P.Gavaghan September 24, 2013 at 6:36 pm #

    Excellent artical.

  17. J.P.Gavaghan September 24, 2013 at 6:42 pm #

    Excellent article I agree 100 per cent. Very intersting how the news media can cut you off. unless you agree with what they want.

  18. Charlie D. September 24, 2013 at 7:12 pm #

    The world of divisionaries only reacts from the strength we breed!

    The only thing good decission that Truman made,and those empowered since was the two bombs dropped on Japan that ended WW II. That shows what decisive strength brings.

    Since that time no president has acted from a position that “wakened” those who have defiled us. Diplosmacy is for diplomates of which we have none. Politicians who are empowered because of their “home base” and aliegance are not qualified to lead and guide our future. This includes most members of the Cabinet who are appointees without previous experience. This lack of basic knowledge, history and common sence evolves acts of “diplocamcy” without a strong and all empowering armed force with the strength to control and employ our desires.

    Weakness breads and expands our enemies thoughts and actions that in-turn emulsionfies our position and needs.

    Charlie D.

  19. Pat Gallotta September 25, 2013 at 10:54 pm #

    Leave political correctness to the leftist wusses. Profiling gets real results. Just ask the Israelis.