A TSA screener at the New Orleans’ Armstrong International Airport conducted an advanced pat-down of a 6-year-old girl. According to the TSA, and from watching the video, the screener conducted the pat-down in accordance with the proper procedures and was polite about the process.
However, the TSA has said that the advanced pat-down will not be used for kids under 12. And the mother allegedly asked the TSA supervisor why this had to be done and whether her daughter could go through the scanner again, and was apparently not given an answer to the first question and told that they must do the pat-down in answer to the second.
You know, this would have been a PERFECT opportunity to call a K-9 over – customer friendly and effective.
TSA Administrator Pistole has said that they want to move towards a more risk-based approach, towards processes that would reduce the need to pat-down a child and others that are clearly not threats. It will take awhile to get there so in the meantime, perhaps we can move at least to a common sense approach.
Some security “experts” have already backed the TSA’s play. Okay, let’s give credit where credit is due, and acknowledge that the bad guys have loaded up children with bombs and sent them into good-guy land. In fact, the use of children in wartime goes much farther back than the recent Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts, so, let’s not remove all kids from suspicion. Let’s instead use our heads.
From the video (keeping in mind I was not on scene and am looking at the same information you saw on the vid) the child does not appear to be displaying any behaviors that would make her suspicious. If you stuffed a gun or knife into your kids pants or shirt and told them to “just act normal,” I can guarantee you that there isn’t a 6-year-old alive that won’t be throwing off tells left and right. If there was a bomb strapped to the kid, you’d see it – that’s a tight enough shirt she has on and it’s not going to hide a bulge underneath it. In fact, with about an hour of training in behavioral detection, or just being a parent of a six-year-old, you can ask one question of a kid and you will immediately be able to tell if they are lying to you or anyone has hidden anything under their clothing.
If the body imaging device showed that there was a suspect area on the child’s body, then just that area should be looked at. In this case, the TSA should be asked to articulate the reasonable suspicion that existed that warranted a aggressive pat down. This should be a good case study for Pistole and his staff to help them determine what kinds of training and process changes are needed to keep parents from having to explain to their kids why it’s not okay for anyone to touch their private parts, except doctors, and now, TSA screeners.