This from Mental Floss on a better way to security screen — in this case in airports:
Since 2007, the TSA has been pouring $200 million a year into agents trained to spot suspicious behavior in passengers. The program, called Screening of Passengers by Observation Techniques (SPOT) was developed by a psychology professor at the University of California Medical School in San Francisco named Paul Ekman. It involves a list of 94 signs of anxiety and fear, like lack of eye contact or sweating. But one report found that SPOT is ineffective because “the human ability to accurately identify deceptive behavior based on behavioral indicators is the same as or slightly better than chance.”
Another method of screening passengers is simply to talk to them. A 2014 study found that asking open-ended questions—known as the Controlled Cognitive Engagement method (CCE)—is 20 times more effective than trying to monitor based on behavior. For example, an agent might ask a passenger where they’re traveling before prodding them with a random question like where they went to college and what they majored in, then watch for signs of panic. “If you’re a regular passenger, you’re just chatting about the thing you know the best—yourself,” says researcher Thomas Ormerod, PhD, head of the School of Psychology at the University of Sussex in England. “It shouldn’t feel like an interrogation.” In the study, officers using conversation-based screening caught 66% of deceptive passengers, compared to just 3% who used behavior-based screening.
I remember a trip to a New Hampshire court, I had a wonderful discussion with the head of security about how his philosophy was that security staff should talk with each person entering the building. This was done by asking people if the staff could help them find what they needed. Security staff were then able to act to maximize the chances of avoiding any problems.
I wish we could find a way to build the same philosophy into all courts. We could then make sure that everyone feels welcomed, as well as gets the information they need, while optimizing security.