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Profiling can occur to any group singled out -- Victor Hill

As a homicide detective, I received training in psychological profiling, which is part science and part art made famous by the FBI as a tool to assist law enforcement to make logical deductions on crime scenes.

The theory behind it is that based on how a criminal behaves at a crime scene can be indicative of how organized or disorganized he is and can possibly indicate approximate age, race and sex. Certain logical deductions can also indicate whether he lives in the immediate area, has or has no transportation or suggests what type of transportation that he is likely to own.

Based on these deductions, certain investigative strategies can be devised to help bring the investigation to a successful conclusion. This, of course, is not an exact science, but has proved useful in numerous investigations involving serial type crimes.

Unfortunately, there is another type of profiling in law enforcement that has received much attention, which is referred to as "racial profiling." Recently, I was invited to speak on this subject of "racial profiling" to the civic organization Rainbow Push. I thoroughly enjoyed this speaking opportunity because it gave me a chance to engage an audience on a hot topic and expose them to a not very known or understood fact that I would like to share with you in this article.

In my 15 plus years experience, I have come to realize that to be accurate and fair, we must take the word "racial" out of the term "racial profiling" and simply refer to it as "profiling" for the following reason.

Let's say hypothetically that a white male with long hair, several tattoos and no shirt is driving a dilapidated pickup truck through an exclusive area. Imagine that he is stopped just based on how he looks, but no violation or probably cause is present, and he is treated improperly. He would still be the victim of what has been selectively termed as "racial profiling" when it should be more accurately referred to as simply "profiling." The point is any group of people who are disenfranchised because of their appearance or lack of social status can be the victim of profiling. A good example of the disenfranchised being victimized was evident in a nearby county where an African American police officer was using his authority to rob members of the Hispanic community. We can only guess that because of the language barrier and other difficulties that is sometimes experienced in that community that he felt that they could be taken advantage of more easily. That is what "profiling" is really about and proves that any race can be the victim of this injustice.

The proven way to effectively combat "profiling" comes from having a strong chief or sheriff since "the speed of the crew is the speed of the boss." In addition you must have sound policies and good training for law enforcement personnel. We are fortunate to have strong leadership in the Clayton County Police Department with chief Partain who is liked and respected by people from all walks of life. Chief Partain has also demonstrated that he believes in training for his men and women and implementing sound policies. It is said that the journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step, and I am proud to work for a department where the first, second and third steps have already been taken.

Victor Hill is a detective for the Clayton County Police Department, a first-term legislator and an occasional columnist for the News Daily.