Tuesday, March 28, 2017

TSA Mythbuster: The Rest of the DFW Pat-down Story

***Update*** When a pat-down is required, TSA can offer reasonable accommodations for individuals with sensory processing disorders or other conditions that sometimes result in pain when touched. However, those individuals still need to undergo a pat-down to maintain security. ***Update***

Myth Banner
As you may have heard, on Sunday at Dallas Fort Worth (DFW), a 13-year-old passenger underwent enhanced security screening, which included a pat-down, after his laptop alarmed an explosives trace detection machine. In total, the pat-down took approximately two minutes, and was observed by the mother and two police officers who were called to ease concerns of the mother. The passengers were at the checkpoint for approximately 45 minutes, which included the time it took to discuss screening procedures with the mother and to screen three carry-on items that required further inspection.

The mother filmed the pat-down and posted it to Facebook. It has since gone viral.

So is this standard procedure? TSA screening procedures allow for the pat-down of children under certain circumstances. In this instance, a laptop alarmed the explosives trace detection machine, which requires additional screening to resolve the alarm. 

We get it. Nobody likes to be patted down. And nobody likes to see their loved ones patted down, especially children. TSA screens thousands of families every day, and our officers are trained to communicate with parents, explain screening procedures before they begin, and find the best way to get everyone to their plane safely and efficiently. Many of our officers are parents too.  

All of our procedures are based on current intelligence and our adversaries are always looking for ways to inflict harm, including recruiting young children to carry out attacks. Bottom-line is that passengers, including children, and their property are screened prior to boarding a plane and any security alarms must be resolved.

So why does TSA conduct pat-downs? Pat-down procedures are used to determine whether prohibited and dangerous items are concealed. You may be required to undergo a pat-down procedure if the screening technology alarms, as part of random or unpredictable security measures, for enhanced screening, or as an alternative to other types of screening, such as advanced imaging technology screening. Even passengers who normally receive expedited screening, such as TSA Pre✓® passengers, may at times receive pat-down screening.

What should you know about pat-down screening?
  • Our officers will explain the procedures to you as they conduct the pat-down.
  • We use modified screening procedures for children 12 and under that reduce the likelihood of pat-down screening.
  • A pat-down may include inspection of the head, neck, arms, hand, back, torso, legs, and feet. This includes head coverings and sensitive areas such as breasts, groin, and the buttocks. You may be required to adjust clothing during the pat-down.
  • Pat-downs require sufficient pressure to ensure detection.
  • Our officers use the back of the hands for pat-downs over sensitive areas of the body. In limited cases, additional screening involving a sensitive area pat-down with the front of the hand may be needed to determine that a threat does not exist.  
  • You should advise the officer if you have difficulty raising your arms or remaining in the position required; an external medical device; or areas of the body that are painful when touched.
  • You may request a chair to sit if needed.
  • You will receive a pat-down by an officer of the same gender.
  • At any time during the process, you may request private screening accompanied by a companion of your choice.  

Bob Burns
TSA Social Media

Saturday, March 25, 2017

TSA Week in Review Mar 13th - 19th: Record Tying 81 Firearms Discovered in Carry-on Bags Last Week - Inert Explosives Detected In Carry-on

TSA discovered 81 firearms last week in carry-on bags around the nation. Of the 81 firearms discovered, 74 were loaded and 26 had a round chambered. This tied our current record of 81 firearms (70 loaded) discovered in August of 2016. All of the firearms pictured were discovered last week. See a complete list below.
Inert Explosives
Three inert blocks of explosives were detected in a traveler’s carry-on bag at the Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport (ECP). This wasn’t a test. It was a military instructor who stated that he forgot they were in his bag. Instructors needing to travel with inert explosives training aids should plan ahead and find another way to transport their training aids. They are prohibited in both checked and carry-on bags. When these items are found at a checkpoint or in checked baggage, they can cause significant delays because the explosives detection professionals must resolve the alarm to determine the level of threat. Even if they are novelty items, you cannot bring them on a plane.
Plastic Dagger
This plastic dagger was discovered near the inner right ankle of a Nashville (BNA) passenger after AIT screening. All knives are prohibited as carry-on items. Concealed knives can lead to fines and arrest.
Bladed Items
From left to right, these items were discovered in carry-on bags at: LAS, DTW, SAN and ABQ

In addition to all of the other prohibited items we find weekly in carry-on bags, our officers also regularly find firearm components, realistic replica firearms, bb and pellet guns, airsoft guns, brass knuckles, ammunition, batons, stun guns, small pocketknives and many other prohibited items too numerous to note. 

You can travel with your firearms in checked baggage, but they must first be declared to the airline.

You can go here for more details on how to properly travel with your firearms.

Firearm possession laws vary by state and locality. Travelers should familiarize themselves with state and local firearm laws for each point of travel prior to departure.

Unfortunately these sorts of occurrences are all too frequent which is why we talk about these finds. Sure, it’s great to share the things that our officers are finding, but at the same time, each time we find a dangerous item, the line is slowed down and a passenger that likely had no ill intent ends up with a citation or in some cases is even arrested. The passenger can face a penalty as high as $11,000. This is a friendly reminder to please leave these items at home. Just because we find a prohibited item on an individual does not mean they had bad intentions; that's for the law enforcement officer to decide. In many cases, people simply forgot they had these items.

*In order to provide a timely weekly update, this data is compiled from a preliminary report. The year-end numbers will vary slightly from what is reported in the weekly updates. However, any monthly, midyear or end-of-year numbers TSA provides on this blog or elsewhere will be actual numbers and not estimates.

If you haven’t read them yet, make sure you check out our year in review posts for
2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016. And don’t forget to check out our top 10 most unusual finds of 2016 video!

Follow @TSA on
Twitter and Instagram!

Bob Burns
TSA Social Media Team