The goal of profiling is to create better intelligence, intelligence that we can use.  All of the profiling domains that we focus our instruction on are designed to help us in two areas.  The first and most important focus is on identifying threats before that action takes place.  The second is to help us collect information about the people and the area we are operating in.

This means that to get this information, we have to get people to talk to us and be willing to depart with the information that they have and we need.  Sometimes getting people to talk can be difficult and a lot of people are going to be pretty suspicious of you if you just rudely interrupt them and start playing 20 questions.

One technique that can facilitate the discussion is to let them talk about what they are interested in.  People are much more likely to pass on all of the information they posses on a topic if they enjoy talking about.  Finding their interests isn’t as hard as you may think it is because most people are absolutely in love with themselves.

I was people watching on the Las Vegas strip about a month ago while I was there for some training.  This becomes much more fun with profiling in mind as you can observe the small details about people that can help us predict their behavior.  On the Vegas Strip, there is a limitless supply of material to observe.  This day though, I’m focused on what people have decided to tell me about them self.  I’m looking for personal iconography.

The first group of people that I saw made this easy.  A group of girls, likely in their 20s, wearing matching tee shirts that have a large “My Name Is” tag screen printed on the back of their shirt that says “I’m the Bridesmaid” with a large red Canadian maple leaf emblazoned on the front.  Kindergarteners could make some conclusions about this group.

The next group I saw was an overweight couple likely in their 60s walking past me wearing matching shirts that have “Oakland” emblazoned across the front.  No question as to where they either live or where they have at least visited.  Right behind them was a group of people wearing Texas football shirts, hats and hoodies who were walking into a sports bar.  They probably aren’t Sooners fans.

While all of these indicators can give me a few bits of information to get a conversation started, there are limits to what a person wears and chooses to communicate about their beliefs. If a person chooses to wear some clothing supporting a cause one day, they could choose to display a conflicting cause the next.

Tattoos are a different story though. They are there to stay.  If I see a something tattooed on your body in a place that is visible to others, you want people to see it and you want to draw attention to it.  We are now talking about things that you believe in, your personal ideology.  Because tattoos are permanent, it likely isn’t a fleeting belief either.  I’m not just talking about a girl with a dolphin tattooed on her ankle, but also for messages that show association, like gang or prison tattoos.

Iconography is not always present, and it can be controlled depending on the situation, but when people do make the choice to tell you what they believe in, it can help provide you with the information you need to identify threats as well as start conversations to gain information.

Thoughts on other ways people communicate what they believe in, let us know.