At Logan, traveling while black a searchable offense

The New York Times reports Logan Airport has a bit of a racial-profiling issue - seems TSA agents just love to search them some blacks and Hispanics:

Officers in Boston acknowledged that they had no firm data on how frequently minority members were stopped. But based on their own observations, several officers estimated that they accounted for as many as 80 percent of passengers searched during certain shifts.

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    A NYT poster made an interesting comment

    saying the TSA and 'terrorism' threat is actually being used to 'profile' and catch run of the mill drug traffickers/mules and other common criminals, a sort of NYC-style stop and frisk [which London Met Police also do].

    Do NYC police overwhelmingly stop 'minority' youth with stop and frisk? Absolutely, because NYC crime stats last showed whites accounted for roughly 2% [!] of 'gun crime' in the city, and the overwhelming bulk [like 90%+] of homicides in the city were committed by mostly young minority males. Are ALL young minority males thugs? OF COURSE NOT, but again ALL crime stats from police, FBI, DOJ show they commit a grossly disproportionate rate of violent crime, including homicide, and in fact in many places like NYC [and Boston BTW] they statistically commit the clear majority of all violent crime, and the vast majority of 'gun crime' and murders.

    As for drug trafficking, there are of course white, Asian, and black drug dealers and traffickers, BUT the importation of drugs like cocaine, heroin are absolutely controlled by Latino-based organizations, and 'Hispanics' traveling to and from certain Latin American countries are frequently used as mules.

    The profilers aren't stupid. What they are is un-PC. ALL people [unless they're really naive and gullible, 'profile' in their life. I'm a white male, and have been 'profiled' MANY times, basically because of the locations I was in and the casual way I generally dress. I find that people of all 'races' and ethnicities who dress in a [for lack of a better description] preppy-style [non-flashy polo shirt/dress shirt, non-flashy khaki-type pants, clean-cut] or who dress in non-flashy business attire suits, are treated automatically better and with less suspicion than people dressed in 'bling' attire, casual jeans, cargo pants, shorts, t-shirts, facial hair, tattoos, piercings, or who just look 'rough'. And when you see [for example] an individual like a young person driving a flashy car/suv/motorcycle, with a lot of 'bling', of course it raises suspicions. Even just the simple act of somebody driving a flashy sports car makes most people suspicious and curious, and in fact many people like that do drive aggressively and are looking for attention.

    I recall reading a front page story in the NYT about 20 years ago about how 'racist' Boston was, and how you see few 'minorities' on downtown streets ! As I was reading this by a window that over-looked a busy street, 3 out of 4 people who passed by were guess what? They weren't lilly white. Anyway, I certainly hope this doesn't start up the 'Boston is racist' BS, again. Boston and the Boston area are VERY 'diverse' and 'multicultural'; anybody who claims otherwise are full of it.

    Here's the problem

    It's a self-fulfilling prophecy. If you only suspect minorities of crimes, then soon enough, only minorities will be charged with crimes.

    Marijuana use is a perfect example of this phenomenon. The majority of marijuana users are white. But the majority of people charged with the crime of marijuana use are not white, because they are searched disproportionately, among other effects.

    You realize there's a difference between weed smokers

    and profiling violent drug traffickers, smugglers, potential thugs with guns, etc.? Most weed smokers are harmless.

    Where, who and why are murders committed in Boston [for example] on average? Seriously, who do you think commits most violent crime, street robberies, drive-bys, murders, in Boston, NYC, Hartford, Springfield, Philly, Newark, etc.,? White, Asian, Hispanic, Black middle class college students? White, black, Asian, Hispanic 'professionals'? Do you think violent crime in a neighborhood increases if there's a public housing project near-by?

    C'mon.

    Certainly that is a problem, but it is not always the case.

    This may be true, however, for the sake of completeness and because the article made a passing mention of some flights, I mention the following.

    There are several flights in and out of Logan that are known to be "drug flights". There are known as such because a disproportionally high number of people traveling on these flights have been discovered to be carrying drugs inbound to Boston or large amounts of cash outbound from Boston. (I realize that carrying a large amount of cash (e.g., $10-50K) within the U.S. is not illegal (although carrying more than $10K internationally is, without proper authorization), I think we can all agree is at least a bit suspicious - particularly when you have it taped in wads all over your body - true story).

    In any case, these are flights to/from where you might think (e.g., certain flights to/from Miami, Santo Domingo, etc.) It also happens that a lot, and usually a majority of the people on these flights are "minorities" (in quotes because, of course, with respect to the population on the flight, this "minorities" are not actually such). Therefore, the anecdotal evidence might suggest that a "disproportionate" number of people arrested on drug charges are minorities, which might not be the case when viewing the full picture. Certain flights (particularly inbound) just get higher scrutiny based on past experience of what is often transported on those flights, not because of the race of the people traveling on those flights (e.g., any CBP agent will tell you that around spring break time, all of the flights inbound from Amsterdam will get additional scrutiny - I presume that everyone can figure out why, and realizes that the population on those flights is overwhelmingly white)>

    Of course I realize that the people trafficking in drugs are not the same as the users you mentioned, and that drugs can come from and go to a lot of places, but I thought this worth mentioning because the article glossed over details like this.

    Right, Adam

    Right, and as you can see from my other post on this thread, I specifically called that out. The point I was making about the flights is that in those cases, it is the flight that is being "profiled" (in the sense that most people think of the term), not the passengers. There is also nothing unlawful about that (particularly as it respects inbound flights from international destinations)

    Further, I think that many people would would call this sort of thing smart law enforcement, just as we often do on UHub when the BPD stops someone for a blowing a red light in a neighborhood where there have been a lot of shootings and discovers a cache of drugs and guns in the car, or grabs someone for jaywalking when that person is walking with a "handgun gait".

    The fallacy of profiling

    The problem is that racial profiling of travelers increases, rather than decreases, the probability of successful terrorist action.

    Using profiling to identify those likely to commit crimes of opportunity such as knocking over liquor stores or stealing cars may be more likely to achieve success, but the sort of planning involved in large-scale terrorist action (never mind the fact that the majority of terrorist actions in the US have been and continue to be committed by white people) takes into account the strategies used to prevent them.

    Demonstrating to potential terrorists, through the open and widespread implementation of racial or gender profiling, which strategies will increase their chances of success, just informs them their chances will be better using agents from groups not subject to such profiling. If you stop all the brown males at the airport, it's a cinch the next bomb will be on a white woman.

    This profiling occurs for no valid reason relating to preventing terrorism, but quite simply, because the "war on terra" has always been used more as a gambit in the war on drug users. Subpoenas under the Patriot Act rarely have anything to do with terrorism, and nor does the profiling in the airport.

    The TSA doesn't really do much that's useful vis-a-vis terrorism. At great public expense, they stand there and bother and probe and molest people. Despite the terrible record of detection and the irrelevance of their work to the threat, this makes people feel safe. Because the agents have a lot of extra capacity amid the charades of security, they've been redirected to what some feel is a more useful pursuit - drug trafficking.

    This is because TSA is not doing what it is supposed to do.

    This is correct - racial profiling doesn't work, and it's why the system TSA is supposed to be using specifically prohibits it. These particular TSA personnel are clearly doing something that they are not supposed to do.

    The system TSA is supposed to be using is behavior-based, and was initially developed and deployed at Logan through the State Police, who were rigorously trained by Israeli experts that Massport hired. The TSA liked the program, so they "adapted" it for their people and took it nationwide. Clearly, their adaptations leave a lot to be desired.

    The behavior based system works and is lawful. Racial profiling doesn't work, and is not lawful in this country. These were two core teachings in the training that the MSP and other non-TSA Logan personnel received. Accordingly, I was not surprised and indeed heartened to see this nugget from the NYT article:

    The practice has become so prevalent, some [TSA] officers said, that Massachusetts State Police officials have asked why minority members appear to make up an overwhelming number of the cases that the airport refers to them.

    It is apparent that TSA could benefit from the constant reinforcement that "this is not about race, this is about behavior" that was and is instilled in the MSP and other airport personnel.

    What is not surprising, however, is that this happened when TSA took the program national. There is a wide, wide gap in the skills and training of TSA personnel locally and across the country and the MSP personnel assigned to Logan. Also, cops with many years experience, even just "on the road", and particularly in Massachusetts, know that racial profiling is not lawful and will only land them in trouble.

    Also, it has become clear that notwithstanding their public denunciations of TSA, there are lots and lots of people in Congress who quite like the fact that the administrative searches carried out by TSA are leading to more and more arrests for "non-terrorist" crimes. I think this has probably filtered down through the TSA brass and created and atmosphere where TSA officers are rewarded for actions that traditionally have been more in the nature of traditional law enforcement.

    On a side note, the thing that continues to surprise me is that people can be so stupid as to do illegal things in connection with flying. You know that you are going to be screened. You know that your bags are going to be screened. Why the hell would you do something stupid like put 4 bricks of cocaine in your carry on luggage? Just because TSA is supposed to be searching for other stuff doesn't mean that they must (or are even supposed to) look past other illegal activity. In any case, what the hell do you think a brick of coke looks like on a scanner? I'll tell you from first hand knowledge - it looks a lot like certain kinds of plastic explosive.

    Bolshit, bolillo.

    But I'll offer this non-response to your non-response: people like Romney and Ryan count on middle class white racism and stupidity to get away with a lot of poo in our society. I have to wonder if you'll be among the legion of fools bending over and spreading 'em for the likes of those guys this November. You think your life sucks now? You ain't seen nothing yet.

    Mister F

    You have racism on the brain. You're obsessed with the subject. Projecting?

    Newsflash Mr. F:

    All white people are not racist. A few are. All black people aren't racist. A few are. All Hispanic people aren't racist. A few are. All Asian people aren't racist. A few are.

    Some politicians, marketers, various ideologies and groups, etc. use dislike, hate even, for a particular group, in order to galvanize and radicalize their small core true believer base, and try and force those in the middle [the vast majority] over to the 'radical' far left or far right, for example. I'm sorry to say both main political parties in the U.S. do it to some extent, and it's the stock and trade for the far left and far right.

    TURF WAR

    MSP is miiffed at TSA is taking over the security functions at the airport the state police canine unit has been replaced by TSA dogs. Next stop guns for TSA agnets.
    But if the data shows racial profiling of young black males it is wrong more importantly why did the Times break the story not the Globe.