Had lunch with a friend who is an active LEO here in Northern Virginia, and we got to talking about ‘profiling’.

Not in the way you might think, but OUR profiles…

Are you a ‘high’ or ‘low’ profile person?  How do you perceive yourself, and how do others perceive you???

By now you’re probably wondering WTF I’m talking about…

Your vehicle- Is it distinctive?  Vanity plates?  NRA stickers? Bumper stickers?  Odd color/make/model?

I’ll admit mine does have vanity plates and a couple of stickers.  Why you may ask???

Without getting into specifics, he talked about two different cases here in NOVA where ‘distinctive’ vehicles were part of investigations…

In one, it was a case of trying to push blame on someone other than the actual perp, and the course of the investigation finally got around to that individual a week or so after the actual ‘act’ was perpetrated.  The individual was ‘placed’ at the scene through his vehicle/license plate description provided by “witnesses”…

Only problem, he was able to prove his vehicle was actually IN THE SHOP at the time he was supposedly at the scene!!!  And he was able to prove he was home at the time, thanks to emails sent from his home computer.  

The witnesses finally admitted they had seen the vehicle before, and happened to remember the plate and description, and just spouted that when questioned…  

The other case was a ‘get even’ set up, where again a vehicle was used to prove ‘guilt’ due to it’s distinctive plate and bumper stickers. In that case it apparently took much longer to ‘clear’ the individual, and that was by luck more than anything else (apparently a parking garage camera finally cleared him).

That led into a discussion of high/low profile clothes…  Do you wear a “shoot me first” vest?  Loud Hawaiian shirts?  Jackets when it’s warm out?  3XL shirts that hang to your knees???

In this case, I am low profile… 

He said about 50% of the time he can pick out who is carrying just by their clothing…  The ‘bad’ part is apparently some of the gangbangers are also catching on, and targeting those individuals  to get their weapons, or break into their vehicles hoping the weapon is left in the car.  

Another point he made is he picks out a lot of CCW people by their attention to their surroundings and having one hand free at all times.  He said paying attention will, many times ‘cue’ him to that person, and he goes down his mental checklist, then goes back to scanning for the perps.  He said the perps tend to be much more furtive,  and once he sees one, he starts looking for others (as most gangbangers tend to run in groups of at least three or more)…  AND they tend to ‘pat’ their weapons, just to make sure they haven’t moved from the carry position…

As far as open carry, he said if the gun is in a holster, he doesn’t ‘worry’ about it. 

YMMV, but I’d be curious to hear your thoughts on this…


Profiling… — 34 Comments

  1. My vehicle is probably a high profile vehicle. I have veteran license plates, and NRA sticker on it. Clothing is low key nothing to baggy or anything with brand names on it.

  2. If you met me on the street, you would have absolutely no idea how awesome I truly am.

    It’s a hard life.

  3. I am low key, as much as I can be… and I try. It’s nobody else’s business who and what I am.

    I agree with the points made towards watching people, and what they say/do/wear/act. I actively work to watch for the same traits.

    Be aware… and think. Rules to live by.

  4. My vehicle is low profile, aside from a small Tech Honor Society sticker, it’s pretty plain.

    My manner of dress, probably not so much. I wear bright colors, but never anything baggy, saggy or unseasonable. I also never have patted anything. Just like my body parts, I know where my gun is at all times. 😉

    And yep, people watching can reveal all sorts of things.

  5. My truck is factory plain, with no stickers of any kind. Clothing is less low-key, as I do have a nice selection of Hawaiian shirts I bought at Ala Moana.

    I wear the Alaskan standard: fleece vest, more often than not. I try not to worry about my holster, but spend a lot of time watching others’ hands and body language.

  6. The late model BMW M-5 is high profile as far as that goes but no vanity plates or bumper stickers. However in SoCal, a gray BMW is not that big of a deal.

    Clothing – you don’t need baggy clothing to hide a firearm, so I never went that route.

    However, I think you’d mark me as one of those people who might be carrying (and you’d be right) – however, people don’t brace me or screw with me. Maybe it’s attitude?

    Walk softly, carry a heavy caliber and take no shit.

  7. I don’t wear anything too bright, but I also try to not look like Tommy Tactical. My cars are a beat up old mini-van with a couple of stickers and a beat up old pickup with a couple of stickers. Hmmm, need to think about those stickers. This isn’t the first time I’ve read ab out police noticing NRA type stickers.

    As for patting the gun, I’m guilty of that, but I’m working on it.

  8. Can’t really afford having a car, not living in a country where I can legally carry… my clothes are probably more low key than what’s good for me, though I tend to wear a black leather jacket almost year round. Being in a non-carry enviroment, looking tough is probably the best(though from a practicality point of view, I should wear looser pants to fully utilize my martial arts training, jeans are restrictive).

  9. I am so pedestrian in appearance and vehicle it actually surprises me. I do wear “shoot me first” 5.11’s and shirts while teaching classes, but you normally don’t see anything. Hell, you can go through all the rooms in my house except one where the reloading press is and never know there is a “gunnie” here.

    When I do whip out a shirt for class, it is a badge of honor!

  10. Vehicle is nondescript. I do tend to wear Hawaiian shirts, but of the low-key variety (yes, they do exist).

    I’d heard of the ‘pat yourself down’ giveaway before, so I’m careful about not doing that (people often tend to do the same thing to reassure themselves that they still have their wallets, car keys, cell phones, etc.)

    Unfortunately, I have a somewhat distinctive appearance (scarred, bald, bearded, tall and big-framed). Not much I can do about that.

  11. Everything is a trade off. Probably very few vehicles have red/silver trailer marking tape across the back. I live on a “drunk” route, a street that parallels a main drag/state highway, that the drunks try to sneak down. Four vehicles have been hit while parked along side my house in the past five years. The only one that was mine didn’t have reflective tape. Some stickers (NRA, Freedom isn’t Free, Blue Dog silhouette, a “Son is in the Army). Police pass me without a glance but a citizen could give a good description.

    Normal dress is a cowboy who doesn’t want to be mistaken for a truck driver. Sneakers, Wranglers, long sleeve T shirt, brimmed hat, and, depending on the temperature, a windbreaker. The 4×4 has the same tape.

    Carry in an ankle holster. No printing, and I have a slight limp, so don’t give anything away.

  12. I’d like to say my car doesn’t stand out but it’s 17 years old. My wife also put the kids activities on the windows like you see all over S. TX.
    Dress is shorts and tshit that fits but not snug.
    Same dress far longer than I’ve carried.

    Prob my only tell tales is adjusting pants for them sliding down and checking my shirt tail that it didn’t ride up.

    Need to work on that.

  13. My vehicle is fairly plain except for my “European” tag on the front and my “Desert Storm” sticker on the back window. Other that that it is plain. Now the Ranger has more stickers on it, the usual “Proud to be an American” kinda stuff. Well it is a truck.
    Clothes for me is non descript, I prefer dark colors and I am getting used to carrying concealed. I used to do the usual pat to make sure the gun hasn’t moved. Now that I am used to it, I don’t do it anymore. However I am observant, that I cannot change.

    Good article there;)

  14. Keads– yeah your “IDPA Concealment Garment” WOULD break up the outline of anything you’d be carrying…

  15. i’m with MSgt B 🙂

    … but as i can’t carry i have to be aware of my surrounds so yes, i could be spotted on that.

  16. 82nd Airborne license frame in front, post sticker on windshield, cross stitched cross hanging from mirror, Appleseed sticker on back with AMA Watch out for Motorcycles sticker and Support the troops magnet ribbon, and a Redcoat target magnet, also.

    Clothes, loose but I am getting so fat, I like lots of pockets cameras and keys print, knives and gun might or might not be under them. I don’t touch unless I need to get the knife or gun.

    But watching is good, don’t want to miss the beauties out there, and fools are funny.

  17. Yeah, all of the above ‘cept for stickers.
    I rubberneck, loose shirt, move the iwb from driving to walking, move it again to sit down, and have had many conversations with leo and not one of them has looked at my hip, or asked me.

  18. Low profile SUV and low profile clothing. Carry the Airweight in my pocket where its weight lets me know it’s there. Look at me, I’m just a middle aged dude strolling down the street with my right hand in my pocket – nothing to see here.

    My wife is catching on. She stays on my left side and doesn’t insist I open the car door in tight spaces. I stand at the opening between cars and makes sure no one gets between us while she gets in the car.

  19. Mmasse- Same here

    MSGT- The horror… 🙂

    Carteach- Concur

    Snigs- You mean you don’t have to ‘adjust’ things all the time??? 🙂

    Rev- Heard that!

    LL- Good point 🙂 And Beemers are the ‘norm’ in your part of the country…

    DB- Yeah, something to think about…

    Mikael- Agreed, you MUST defend any way you can.

    Keads- Probably the ‘best’ way to go.

    Tim- Yeah, can’t do much about our physical appearance… 🙂

    WSF- Yep, it’s ALL tradeoffs…

    Teke- Once you get ‘comfortable’ with carrying, that goes away.

    MrG- Observant is good!

    Rick- Point! 🙂

    45er- You’re smarter than the average bear! 🙂

    Julie- I ‘noticed’ that 🙂

    Earl- I’m about the same, proud of my service and show it. Similar on the others too!

    Skip- OR they just figure you know what you’re doing… 🙂

    PE- GOOD habit pattern there! And kudos to the missus for understanding!

  20. Pennsylvania offers Veteran plates by service. So I have a United States Coast Guard plate on the truck. Now add that to the 4 mentions of NRA on the rear. Tow hitch is brass Friends of NRA, Lift gate has Life Member Shield Emblem, rear window has huge center mounted NRA sticker, along with smaller RSO and membership stickers. LOL!!
    I drove through a DUI checkpoint and the question wasn’t have you been drinking, sir? It was are you currently carrying? Duh, yeah.

    I think I am high profile, at least while driving. Now that spring has sprung, I will be carrying my fanny pack , too!!

    No vests, and newer pocket holsters are very nice.

  21. I am pretty low profile except for my plates which were a gift from my family. I am extremely low profile in dress, but I will say I try to balance living my life with protecting it. My car is fairly expensive, but it’s what I wanted and it really serves my lifestyle with the kids. Same with my husband. It may be a risk, but I don’t want to just be holed up somewhere with 6 years of food. Yeah, I might be safe, but what’s the point?

  22. Truckus genericus (“It was a pale-colored pick-up officer!” “Great, that only leaves 1/3 of the vehicles in the tri-county area.”)

    Clothes are a little distinctive, but then so is the rest of me. Carry off-body for that reason and don’t check it, don’t go rooting around to see if it is still there, and women always hold their pocketbook close to their body if they have any sense.


  23. My vehicles aren’t anything unusual, but I’m sure your LEO buddy could pick me out as being armed. I dress pretty militant, and I’m working on changing that.

  24. Middle of the road. Some of you have seen my truck, some haven’t. One distinctive magnet on the bumper (Forget Tibet, Free America!), a few small decals on the window (FD, PTSF, Gadsden, Sons of Liberty), and firefighter tags. It’s more distinctive for being a crew cab with a toolbox than anything else, but in these parts work trucks aren’t uncommon.

    Dress and awareness … well, some things can’t be helped. I wear what’s comfortable, and am perpetually terrified of my cover slipping behind my piece, so check that pretty much any time I stand up.

  25. Danny- Understood, and I’m very similar.

    Agirl- It’s not so much about the ‘cost’ of the vehicle, it’s how much it stands out… Vanity plates and NRA stickers and such… It’s not about holing up either. It’s how much ‘attention’ you call to yourself

    Andy- 🙂

    LR1- Good point! I’d not thought of purse carry. My bad…

    Ctone- We work with what we have, right? 🙂

    Jay- No shit! 🙂

    Zer- Work trucks are ‘expected’ to have stickers 🙂 Re the cover garment- STOP THAT! 🙂

  26. I pocket carry, but that deprives me of a pocket, so I depend on my jacket pockets.
    I bought a vest for pockets on hot summer days, on to realize I look like that guy in “Tremors”, or so my kids have said.
    So it stays in the closet mostly.
    I project sit-awareness. I intend to.
    And I paint my political statements in the rear window or on the tailgate of my truck which I believe led to this:

  27. One of my vehicles is virtually no-profile (there’s gotta be about a million early 90’s F-150s out there, and mine has standard plates and no stickers), and one is very high profile, but mostly only to car geeks (1964 Karmann Ghia. And it’ll be worse when it’s done, and has vanity plates).

    As to my manner of dress, I pretty much wear “western fat kid standard,” t-shirt, jeans, a ballcap, and some breed of overshirt, whether or not there’s a gun on my person. I try to keep the colors and patterns relatively muted, however, or at least overshadowed by a sarcastic message on my shirt. With the exception of a couple of “gun nut” shirts, my favorite being one that says “Fight crime. Shoot back.”

    It’s the risk area I’m comfortable with in life, I guess.

  28. The car’s appearance is low profile, but that exhaust leak and the way it gets driven wreck that for us. I dress pretty low profile I guess, but I don’t seem to hide in a crowd very well for some reason. As to patting the gun – I know my gun’s not going anywhere. I made the holster it’s in!

  29. Heh. I dress like a 5.11 commercial. My Jeep has a small American Flag sticker that happens to say Springfield Armory in small letters at the bottom. I open carry, so that’s pretty much the give-away.