Nov 1, 2010 8:01 PM by Zach Thaxton

New TSA pat-down policy makes some passengers uncomfortable

A new Transportation Security Administration policy including "thorough" pat-downs of passengers has some travelers concerned about their privacy, fearing they'll be "groped" in airport security lines.

The new procedures, put into place last week at airports nationwide, require screeners to slide their hands over a passenger's body, including breasts and genitals.  In a statement sent to News First 5, the TSA said, ""TSA is in the process of implementing new pat-down procedures at checkpoints nationwide as one of our many layers of security to keep the traveling public safe. Pat-downs are one important tool to help TSA detect hidden and dangerous items such as explosives. Passengers should continue to expect an unpredictable mix of security layers that include explosives trace detection, advanced imaging technology, canine teams, among others."

The American Civil Liberties Union says it's anticipating complaints from some passengers, but says there is very little legal recourse passengers can take because air travel is considered a privelege, not a right.  "This would be an intrusive, groping style of pat-down because people are so concerned about the malleable, moldable nature of these explosives," said Loring Wirbel, co-chair of the Colorado Springs ACLU.

"Security precautions do need to be taken," said Lynne Parott of Colorado Springs, "but having someone pat me down everywhere is an invasion of my privacy."  Paul Vollbehr of Pueblo West appreciates the added level of security.  "I know it's kind of a bother to some, but it makes me feel better in the long run," he said.

The TSA says pat-downs will be conducted by same-gender officers and passengers can request private screening rooms.  In its statement, the TSA further said, "Pat-down procedures are primarily used to resolve alarms that occur at a walk-through metal detector, if an anomaly is detected during screening with advanced imaging technology, or during random screening. Passengers who opt out of advanced imaging technology or walk through metal detector screening will receive alternate screening, which includes a thorough pat-down.  Since TSA deployed advanced imaging technology, more than 99 percent of passengers have selected this screening."


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