March 19, 2015

"I don’t honestly know what the stereotype looks like for a heroin smuggler, but I don’t think a couple of senior citizens driving a handicapped license plate car..."

"... with their little cocker spaniel really looks like we’re much of a threat to anybody... I tell you what, I respect the law less today than I did before."

So now the complaint is that the police don't profile enough?

45 comments:

clint said...

Hasn't there always been that complaint?

Don't you remember the spate of TSA stories last decade where elderly women were strip searched and senators (Don't you know who I am!) were targeted for heightened scrutiny in the interest of not profiling?

This is one of many issues where the large majority agrees with an abstract principle (don't profile!) and yet disagrees with its concrete application (why are we wasting police resources strip-searching granny?).

Curious George said...

"So now the complaint is that the police don't profile enough?"

That would continue to be my complaint.

PatHMV said...

First, nobody would have ever heard of this incident had the couple been black. Period. Because that story happens every day, and so is not news.

Second, it's good to see some attention to police tactics like this, the impact it has on the people stopped, even if only because it's a middle class white couple. The oppression of such ridiculous pretextual traffic stops is felt by everybody who experiences them, and lessens the respect the people stopped have for the police every time it happens.

Third, when all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail. If you're a narcotics cop, apparently you assume that everybody is a drug mule.

Laslo Spatula said...

What is it about old age that makes everyone think they couldn't possibly be criminals?

If I had a hundred bucks for every time an old person sold me a hundred dollars of heroin I would've broke even. Mostly.

I am Laslo.

The Drill SGT said...

Everybody who engages in retail level interactions with the public profiles.

It's the effective allocation of scarce resources to get the largest ROI.

more often than not, it pays off, that's why it's done.

holdfast said...

The cops like to stop people. We got pulled over a few months ago in NYC for no reason I could tell - the cop mumbled something about me fiddling with my seatbelt, which was BS and he didn't press it. Maybe he wanted to smell the driver's breath / look at pupil dilation? Who knows - we weren't breaking any laws and were allowed to carry on our way.

Because NYC has crazy high cigarette taxes and grossly unconstitutional firearms laws, it is the destination for a lot of inter-state smuggling activities. I assume that they try to combat this with a lot of "random" traffic stops.

Basil said...

How can the police to their job without "profiling"? It's also called "following the evidence" and "dealing with reality."

Hagar said...

Can't stop everybody even if they had the manpower, so that is out.

Can't just stop the ones that look the most likely to be "dirty" because that is "profiling," so that is out.

Unsatisfactory, but the best we can do: Stop every 13th person, and hope that makes it risky enough for the bad guys to come through here that they will go somewhere else and be someone else's problem.

Fernandinande said...

Beside having a probably purposely mis-calibrated window-tint-measuring gizmo, the pudgy thug was even dragging some poor dog around their car.

Fernandinande said...

link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OFJfp_hL2KI

Virgil Hilts said...

I have no problem with profiling. Would any sane person support a system where the TSA thinks it should detain and extensively search an 86 year old man with a pace maker because the Congressional Medal of Honor that he was carrying (which he received from FDR) seemed suspicious. http://www.snopes.com/politics/military/airportmedal.asp

rhhardin said...

Profiling is required by Bayes Theorem.

Otherwise you're wasting resources.

Roger Sweeny said...

The complaint by some people is that police don't profile enough. The complaint by respectable people is that police profile too much.

Respectable. Yeah.

tim maguire said...

So now the complaint is that the police don't profile enough?

Huh? This couple doesn't get to point out that they are obviously not suspicious because somebody somewhere else complained about profiling? Why does this couple carry that responsibility on their shoulders?

Brando said...

Profiling based on factors other than race (mode of dress, behavior, location) are fine, and desirable, but shouldn't exclude random checks where the profile factors don't exist (as otherwise the targets will know how to slip under the radar). And profile factors need to be adjusted accordingly.

Racial profiling is trickier though--on one hand, it may prove more efficient if certain racial groups are provably more likely to be doing what you're looking for (looking for people connected to Mafia families back in the day would be foolish if you didn't target Italians). At the same time, it still means putting a burden on the (majority) innocent members of that racial group. They have to shoulder the burden to provide a benefit for all of society. Maybe a fair way to do this is provide some compensation to anyone being searched (and not found guilty) so they get something for their burden? I wouldn't mind a sandwich voucher in exchange for being randomly searched at the airport.

tim maguire said...

Brando, I'd be satisfied if the officers doing the search behaved as though they realized the person being searched based on a profile is almost certainly innocent.

AReasonableMan said...

It is hard to overstate the incompetence of local cops.

Tank said...

Men are more criminal than women.

Young people are more criminal than old people.

Black people are more criminal than Asian people, Hispanic people and White People.

Young, black men are more criminal than all other groups.

If you feel you must, add "as a group" to all of the above.

Should we devote equal resources to young, black men and old, Asian women?

On the other hand, sometimes an old, Asian woman is a criminal.

Nuance.

Big Mike said...

The officer had claimed that their Toyota had tinted windows, which is an indicator for drug dealers.

Only their windows weren't tinted.

I agree with PatHMV's point. That point was recently reinforced for me when I met a young black man who's married to a blonde and who therefore frequently finds himself harassed with "driving while Black" pullovers where an officer takes his wife to the side and quizzes her. "Is everything all right, ma'am?" "Why are you in the car with this man?" As if pretty white women never marry handsome black men!

The punch line? He is a Special Agent for the Defense Criminal Investigative Service. In other words, he's a federal cop.

Left Bank of the Charles said...

They were driving through Georgia on a return trip from Texas back to North Carolina. Any driving trip to or from Texas is probable cause for a police stop.

Also, they may well have looked black to the officer through the tinted windows. That's what you get from profiling, false positives.

PatHMV said...

What's the need to stop cars on the random chance they may be carrying some drugs? If you had a truly accurate profile that had a success rate of about 90%, then maybe I could see that. But what's the reason for stopping a car essentially at random, just because it meets some "profile" for possibly carrying drugs?

Is there a decent chance that a young hispanic man driving a brand new, expensive pick-up truck down I-10 from Texas to Florida is carrying drugs? Maybe so. But absent a claim from an informant or surveillance on the person the young man was observed to get the truck from, why are we stopping some one on the highway just to search for drugs. A cop can ALWAYS find an excuse to pull someone over for a traffic violation. ALWAYS. So the cop is choosing to target particular, profiled vehicles and individuals, when they're really just driving along, doing nothing apparently wrong. What does society gain from stopping these folks on a "profile"?

FleetUSA said...

The cop was in the NARC. Hence, that's the only type of questions he knows. Dark tinted windows adds to the cop's typical drug runner profile.

Sadly.

lgv said...

The bigger point is that this is routinely done by cops. Stopping out of staters for no real reason and searching their vehicle. I know several people that have had this done. You must voluntarily agree to a search of your vehicle. If you don't, you will be assumed to be hiding something and taken to the local police station for further questioning. Do not dare resist.

The concept of probable cause does not apply.

Ann Althouse said...

They were stopped because of dark tinted windows (which actually were tested as darker than permitted by the law).

Was the cop supposed to say I see you are old and have a cocker spaniel and treat them differently from people who are middle aged and have a pit bull?

Fernandinande said...

Ann Althouse said...
They were stopped because of dark tinted windows (which actually were tested as darker than permitted by the law).


They weren't darker than permitted. The cop was lying.

But, on the contrary, the Tharp's Toyota dealership tested the tint and got a different reading that was legal.

Do you actually think Toyota engineers are improperly factory-tinting windows on tens of thousands of cars? If so, let's see the recall notices.

Was the cop supposed to say I see you are old and have a cocker spaniel and treat them differently from people who are middle aged and have a pit bull?

The cop was supposed to say "those people are obeying traffic laws and minding their own business, so there's no reason for me to pull them over."

PatHMV said...

Professor, it's not clear to me whether the tint was in fact legally too dark. The couple said they were told by the cop that they tested too dark. But they also said it was a factory-installed tint, and they had trouble (as do I) that a dealer- or factory-applied tint would violate the law.

At any rate, the cop used traffic rules as an excuse to detain these folks. While the Supreme Court has (and correctly in my view) held that the subjective motivation of the officer in making the stop is immaterial, that doesn't make it right. Traffic laws should be used to protect the safety of motorists and pedestrians, and that's all. They should NOT be used as an excuse to conduct a general search or to investigate someone for a non-traffic related matter.

MayBee said...

I have no idea what people mean when they say they want the police to stop profiling. That seems to be the big "solution" mentioned in the Ferguson protests.

Of course, Mike Brown wasn't profiled. He was walking down the middle of the street after having stolen from a store and pushed the clerk. A cop is going to tell people in the middle of the street to move every single time.

I want them to stop pulling people over for no good reason. I don't want them to be racist. But saying "stop profiling" is meaningless and I think we should ask what the goal is there. What is the end game?

President-Mom-Jeans said...

The complaint is that officer dickless used a purely pretextual stop for an out of state license and then bullied and harassed some senior citizens without probable cause.

Just because Darren Wilson was justified in shooting Mike Brown, it doesn't mean that there is a problem with out of control and unaccountable thugs operating under the color of law.

Fernandinande said...

Brando said...
but shouldn't exclude random checks where the profile factors don't exist


Maybe everyone should be required to fill out a car "trip request" first, detailing their destination, reason for the trip, etc, then be searched at gunpoint before they start driving, then be monitored by cameras and microphones while they drive, then searched at gunpoint again when they arrive at their destination.

Sorta like commercial airlines.

Delayna said...

Eh. Nobody wants to be accused or suspected of a crime. Whether that's because you look very much like the last hundred people convicted of the charge or nothing at all like them, it's not something people want.

Brando said...

"Of course, Mike Brown wasn't profiled. He was walking down the middle of the street after having stolen from a store and pushed the clerk. A cop is going to tell people in the middle of the street to move every single time."

Anyone who thinks sometimes the police can abuse their authority and that there should be more accountability for this should acknowledge that Mike Brown was a different case, and it was a mistake for anyone to make him the poster child. But the race hucksters and their fellow travellers who drove that protest (as opposed to those who just generally value police accountability) didn't care--their extremism blinded them to just how poor the Brown v. Wilson case was.

FullMoon said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Robt C said...

Slightly off-topic, but I rankle at the use of "elderly" for people in their 60s, especially a gent who's 69. That said, I'll be off to my daily run as soon as I finish my workout.

prairie wind said...

Maybe they looked as if they were carrying a large amount of money.

Donna B. said...

I drive through Georgia on I-20 several times a year and there's always at least one car pulled over being searched. I am very careful in Georgia.

David said...

I met a young black man who's married to a blonde and who therefore frequently finds himself harassed with "driving while Black" pullovers where an officer takes his wife to the side and quizzes her. "Is everything all right, ma'am?" "Why are you in the car with this man?" As if pretty white women never marry handsome black men!

The punch line? He is a Special Agent for the Defense Criminal Investigative Service. In other words, he's a federal cop.


Maybe. Or maybe he's just a bullshitter. I can believe that this might happen, but "frequently?" Pretty doubtful.

David said...

I got stopped at about 5 AM recently. I was on my way to the airport for a very early flight. A female officer pulled me over because (she said) I was having trouble maintaining my lane. She was probably right about that. There was no traffic and I had just pulled out of a McDonalds and was fussing with the food.

She quizzed me, took my license and insurance card and checked them out. By the time she was done and sent me away with a warning, I was at risk of missing my flight.

I did not object and did not feel unjustly imposed upon. She was doing her job and perhaps I was a 5 AM drunk. That's not rare where I live. I did make the flight and the lady had done her job.

Life in the Naked City. Case closed.

Big Mike said...

@David, being pulled over for DWB is not bullshit. There's way too much statistical and anecdotal evidence for it.

Anonymous said...

The police hit my parents up for a bribe/ticket in the middle of CONNECTICUT a million years ago when they were first married.

I was actually surprised when I heard the story. And yeah, I profiled. I thought suburban rural cops in a state that amounts to one giant lawn in supposedly Golden Age America would have been better behaved.

hombre said...

"That's what you get from profiling, false positives." (8:55)

Of course. All lefties know that profiles are expected to be infallible.

The Godfather said...

So the old fart cursed the cop and tried to grab his pistol, and the cop shot him.

Right?

Or the old fart was pissed off, but he did what the officer asked him to do, and after a delay he and his wife went on their way.

Is it that difficult to teach young people which approach is more likely to lead to a long and happy life?

The Godfather said...

BTW I'm three years older than the old fart with the tinted windows.

Also BTW when I lived in south Florida there was a lot of discussion about whether tinted windows that helped in the bright sun of Florida would get you in trouble "up north". I never got a definitive answer to that. I now live in NC, and I don't have dark windows (and I'm not a drug mule).

Kirk Parker said...


ARM,

"It is hard to overstate the incompetence of local cops"

Ah, but you're just the (unreasonable) man to do it!

Kirk Parker said...

Can we all just agree that the War On (Some) Drugs™ is massively, horrifyingly corrupting, and do away with it already?

Sammy Finkelman said...

The thing to remember about profiling, is that it is mainly a method of determining innocence, not guilt.

It's when 96% of the population is excluded that you get into trouble.