Outrage after TSA pats down 6-year-old at N.O. Airport

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wwltv.com

Posted on April 12, 2011 at 6:23 PM

Updated Wednesday, Apr 13 at 9:29 AM

Katie Moore / Eyewitness News

NEW ORLEANS -- Some civil rights advocates are outraged after a 6-year-old girl received an intense pat-down at Armstrong International Airport security on April 5.

Someone caught the pat-down on video, and it's making its way around the Internet.

It has many asking, are the intense security screenings really necessary, especially for a little girl?

“A child who is visibly, audibly complaining, ‘I don't want to do this,’ should at the very least be given some privacy,” said Marjorie Esman, executive director of the ACLU Louisiana.

The screener talks her through it, letting her know where she'll be touching next. But Esman questions whether all of it is really necessary.

“A 6-year-old child shouldn't be subjected to this kind of treatment in the first place if there's no reason to suspect her or her parents of being criminals,” she said.

On Tuesday afternoon, at the New Orleans airport, Derionne Pollard said she flies frequently with her 4-year-old son Miles.

“He's never been patted down. He goes through security. He understands that process,” Pollard said.

We showed her the video of the girl getting a pat down on YouTube.

“I think we spend a lot more time getting ourselves inflamed about things that aren't really necessary. That took all of, what? 20 seconds to get done? So, suck it up. It's a part of travel right now,” she said.

Yukri and Daniel Amos both said they think the TSA is doing it to prevent any sort of attack, in an airport, or in the air.

“Given these times, you do have to do that. Because some people do use their children in a way that is horrible,” Daniel Amos said.

However, the Seattle couple is split on whether kids should go through such an intense screening process.

“She's not gonna understand. She's only five years old,” Yukri Amos said.

Right now, at Armstrong International, everyone either gets a body scan or a pat-down. But Esman said she thinks the TSA should be more selective about who gets intensively screened.

“What we need is a system that will identify specific people who are under reasonable suspicion and subject them to additional scrutiny and not subject everybody else, not be subjected to that type of harassment,” Esman said.

In the case of last week’s pat down of a 6-year-old, the TSA maintains children have been used to carry explosives in some places, and that they have to be subject to the same restrictions as adults in order to ensure safety.

Armstrong International Airport referred us to the TSA for comment on this story.

A TSA spokesman out of Atlanta wouldn't do an interview with us but said in a statement, "TSA has reviewed the incident and determined that this officer followed proper current screening procedures. However, in line with his vision to accelerate TSA's evolution into a truly risk-based, intelligence-driven organization, Administrator Pistole has tasked the agency with exploring additional ways to focus its resources and move beyond a one-size fits all system while maintaining a high level of security. As part of this effort, TSA has been actively reviewing its screening policies and procedures to streamline and improve the screening experience for low-risk populations, such as younger passengers.”

 

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