Airport Behavioral Profiling Leads to an Arrest
I’m generally a fan of behavioral profiling. While it sounds weird and creepy and has been likened to Orwell’s “facecrime”, there’s no doubt that — when done properly — it works at catching common criminals:
On Dec. 4, Juan Carlos Berriel-Castillo, 22, and Bernardo Carmona-Olivares, 20, were planning to fly to Maui but were instead arrested on suspicion of forgery.
They tried to pass through a Terminal 4 security checkpoint with suspicious documents, Phoenix police spokeswoman Stacie Derge said.
The pair had false permanent-resident identification, and authorities also found false Social Security cards, officials say.
While the pair were questioned about the papers, a TSA official who had received behavior-recognition training observed a third man in the area who appeared to be connected to Berriel-Castillo and Carmona-Olivares, Melendez said.
As a result, police later arrested Samuel Gonzalez, 32. A background check revealed that Gonzalez was wanted on two misdemeanor warrants.
TSA press release here.
Security is a trade-off. The question is whether the expense of the Screening Passengers by Observation Techniques (SPOT) program, given the minor criminals it catches, is worth it. (Remember, it’s supposed to catch terrorists, not people with outstanding misdemeanor warrants.) Especially with the 99% false alarm rate:
Since January 2006, behavior-detection officers have referred about 70,000 people for secondary screening, Maccario said. Of those, about 600 to 700 were arrested on a variety of charges, including possession of drugs, weapons violations and outstanding warrants.
And the other social costs, including loss of liberty, restriction of fundamental freedoms, and the creation of a thoughtcrime. Is this the sort of power we want to give a police force in a constitutional democracy, or does it feel more like a police-state sort of thing?
This “Bizarro” cartoon sums it up nicely.