***Update: 5/27/2011 – Read this story in the Houston Chronicle for an update.***
What's our take on the Texas House of Representatives voting to ban the current TSA pat-down? Well, the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution (Article. VI. Clause 2) prevents states from regulating the federal government.
We wish we lived in a world where you could just walk on a plane with no security screening, but that just isn't the case unfortunately. Aviation security agencies worldwide have been using pat-downs long before TSA was created to prevent dangerous items from getting onto airplanes. The pat-down is a highly effective tool to resolve certain alarms and keep these dangerous items off of planes that could cause catastrophic damage. It's important to note that if a passenger (or bag) alarms during screening, our officers must resolve the alarm before allowing the passenger and their baggage on the airplane.
Here are some pat-down myths and facts:
Myth: Everyone who travels will receive a pat-down.
Fact: In fact, less than 3% of passengers receive pat-downs. Only passengers who alarm a walk through metal detector or AIT machine or opt out of the AIT receive a pat-down. In addition, some passengers may also receive a pat-down as part of our random, unpredictable security measures. In his testimony to a Senate subcommittee, Administrator Pistole said: "The bottom line is few people in the overall scheme of things will actually receive those pat downs. Now, we've heard some examples, and obviously, there's a vocal group out there who have experienced this for the first time, and, rightfully so, raising concerns, what's behind this. And the bottom line is we, the transportation security officers in particular, are trying to work in partnership with the traveling public to say we want to ensure that you are safe on this flight. Work with us in a partnership to provide the best possible security. And that's what it comes down to."
Myth: All children will receive pat-downs.
Fact: No. TSA officers are trained to work with parents to ensure a respectful screening process for the entire family, while providing the best possible security for all travelers. Children 12 years old and under who require extra screening will receive a modified pat down.
Myth: Complaints about the pat-downs are extremely high.
Fact: Only a small percentage of the traveling public receives a pat down as they travel through the security checkpoint. Between November 2010 and March 2011, TSA screened nearly 252 million people. In that same time period, we received 898 complaints from individuals who have experienced or witnessed a pat down. That's roughly 0.0004%.
Myth: Pat downs for certain individuals are limited to the head and neck.
Fact: No one is exempt. Everyone is subject to the same screening. TSA is sensitive to religious and cultural needs, but everyone must be screened effectively.
TSA Blog Team
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