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Archive for Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Don’t touch my junk: TSA workers face tough job

November 24, 2010

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Transportation Security Administration screener Marlon Tejada, left, watches as Randy Parsons, TSA acting Federal Security Director, right, goes through a full body X-ray scanner for a security screening Monday at the Los Angeles International Airport.

Transportation Security Administration screener Marlon Tejada, left, watches as Randy Parsons, TSA acting Federal Security Director, right, goes through a full body X-ray scanner for a security screening Monday at the Los Angeles International Airport.

— They’ve been called molesters, threatened with physical violence and ordered not to touch “my junk.”

One woman headbutted a TSA officer who was searching her laptop. Other screeners report being punched, kicked and shoved during patdowns. However, security officers performing increasingly invasive searches say they want Thanksgiving travelers to know they’re just doing their jobs, and trying to save lives.

“Even though the agents face some considerable stress from passengers, they are determined to keep the traveling public safe,” said Sari Koshetz, a TSA spokeswoman in Tampa on Tuesday.

To be sure, most passengers are docile when going through an airport’s security checkpoint.

But Ricky D. McCoy, a lead transportation officer and president of Local 777 Illinois and Wisconsin, a union for the TSA workers, said the atmosphere has changed in the past two weeks.

Last week, for instance, McCoy explained the search to a passenger. “The guy looked me straight in the face and said, ‘I don’t know what I might do to you if you touch me,’” McCoy said.

McCoy assured the man he would not be abused — and then stared the man down and told him touching him would be the worst mistake he’s ever made because authorities would be called. The search went smoothly.

“About 10 minutes later his wife came back and apologized for what he said,” McCoy said.

The new pat-downs began about a month ago, and there was one assault on an officer early on. Since the story made headlines, McCoy said, there have been at least six incidents where officers were punched, pushed or shoved after officers explained what would be happening. In one case, he said a passenger headbutted an officer as he looked at her laptop.

He blamed TSA for the uproar, saying the agency didn’t reach out to passengers enough.

“We have major problems because basically TSA never educated the public on what was going on,” McCoy said. “Our agency pretty much just threw the new search techniques out there.”

And then there’s the downright uncomfortable: Valorie Lacey, a TSA officer and president of Local 333 in Philadelphia, recalled doing a pat-down on a woman’s lower body.

“While I was bending over, I saw two men gawking at us,” she said. She wasn’t sure if the woman noticed.

TSA officers have received eight to 12 hours of training on the pat-down procedure, Koshetz said. Training on the scanning machines is a three-day process that requires on-the-job training. She said the agents must pass tests each year and requalify for their jobs.

Despite the occasional outburst, many passengers are forgiving.

“I personally wouldn’t want to be patted down,” said 29-year-old Relana McGlothan, an Army reservist from Orlando who had a layover Tuesday in Atlanta on her way to Raleigh, N.C. “But I think the security people are just doing their jobs. They have a service job, so they have to do what they’re told to do.”

Valyria Lewis, a transportation security officer and president of AFGE local 555, which covers Georgia, Tennessee, Alabama and South Carolina, hasn’t heard of officers encountering problems with passengers in her region. Most of the passengers are cooperative, she said.

“We braced for that, but that’s not what we’ve seen,” Lewis said. “There’s no resistance there. We’re seeing a totally different thing than what we’re seeing in the media.”

The collective unease of many Americans over possible invasions of privacy, intimate touching and general discomfort have led to a near-instant backlash. News stories and videos of disabled passengers and children being screened aggressively haven’t helped, either.

The nation has also paused to laugh. After all, this is the news story that spawned the phrase: “Don’t touch my junk.”

Those words were made famous a scant week ago by a Southern California man who uttered them to a TSA officer while capturing the verbal showdown on his iPhone. A Google search of the phrase on Tuesday registered 4.2 million hits.

Comments

pace 3 years, 4 months ago

Passengers and employees should all strip and be issued disposable paper clothing on the other side of the screening gate. They should be dogs, xrays, pat downs, and then required to sign a non-terrorists oath. They should have wider more comfortable seats and good meals on the planes to make sure no one turns ugly after they board.

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Godot 3 years, 4 months ago

I am hijacking this quote from another site, and cannot provide a link, but I like the content, so here it is:

"Should you find yourself in the situation of going through the line for the 'enhanced' interrogation (x-ray &/or 'enhanced groping'), and you decide that you aren’t really happy about doing do EITHER, would you have standing to be able to say, politely but firmly, something to the effect of; "I am NOT declining to go through the naked x-ray if required, nor the additional groping/pat down being required by the TSA and the Obama Administration. However, I am INVOKING my 4th Amendment rights, and will submit to your search upon being presented either a duly authorized SEARCH WARRANT or a duly authorized ARREST WARRANT - with the plainly stated PROBABLE CAUSE of this required UNREASONABLE SEARCH of my “PERSON”."

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Godot 3 years, 4 months ago

from the article: "But Ricky D. McCoy, a lead transportation officer and president of Local 777 Illinois and Wisconsin, a union for the TSA workers, said the atmosphere has changed in the past two weeks.

Last week, for instance, McCoy explained the search to a passenger. “The guy looked me straight in the face and said, ‘I don’t know what I might do to you if you touch me,’” McCoy said.

McCoy assured the man he would not be abused — and then stared the man down and told him touching him would be the worst mistake he’s ever made because authorities would be called. The search went smoothly."

Ffing jackbooted bully. McCoy has absolutely no constitutional authority to do or say that. Put him in jail.

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jjt 3 years, 4 months ago

I do not want some guy feeling my junk however I would rather that than some guy using KCI to get on my plane and blowing my junk to hell. What you do not get is that these terrorists want to die that is want so they will stuff things where the sun does not shine and play on our emabarassment. For all the complainers who fly (those who do not fly should shut up) how would you go about protecting the passengers from folk who are happy to blow them selves up?

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michaelclayton 3 years, 4 months ago

This is the reason I always pop a couple of Viagra an hour before going through check in. The look on the screeners faces is priceless!

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HopeAndChange 3 years, 4 months ago

Speedo-clad protester entertains SLC airport travelers. Furb Furbish figured if Transportation Security Administration screeners were going to take naked photos of him in order to get on an airplane Wednesday, he might as well save them the trouble. So the Taylorsville resident stood in front of Salt Lake City International Airport in frigid temperatures wearing nothing but shoes, stockings, scarf, a wool cap and a tiny Speedo-style swimsuit. This guy has the right idea!

http://www.sltrib.com/sltrib/home/50744546-76/airport-security-lake-salt.html.csp

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Ray Parker 3 years, 4 months ago

Cabinet secretaries, top congressional leaders and an exclusive group of senior U.S. officials are exempt from toughened new airport screening procedures when they fly commercially with government-approved federal security details. This will not stand. This is America – equal intrusive hassles for all.

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Richard Payton 3 years, 4 months ago

The Doors were ahead of their times flying high and singing touch me babe can't you see that I'm not afraid! He left out the verse touch me dude!

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Godot 3 years, 4 months ago

Let a member of the military excuse dishonorable actions by saying "I was just following orders," and he is crucified by the press and put on trial. TSA grunts do the same thing and they get sympathy from the lame stream media.

Don't like your job doing The Sexual Assault? Then do the honorable thing and quit.

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Flap Doodle 3 years, 4 months ago

"See me, Feel me, Touch me..."

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Healthcare_Moocher 3 years, 4 months ago

Cant wait till Toby Keith writes a song called something like: "Fondle Me"

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g_rock 3 years, 4 months ago

I think that this is the new single worst and most hated job to have in America.

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clovis_sangrail 3 years, 4 months ago

I fly a lot, and although those gloves are for the protection of the TSA droid, you can, and should, request they use clean gloves as they caress your private parts. You can also request they use clean gloves when they rummage through your bag so they are not touching your stuff with the same nasty little hands they just used to stroke someone's underwear.

Also, you have the right to request a private rather than a public grope if you are among the chosen. I would encourage you to do this just for its disruptive value. It takes two TSA droids, and they have to take you and all of your stuff off to whatever area they have designated for private searches. Once at KCI, they had to throw Bobby Ray and his meatball sandwich out of their tiny little breakroom so they could pat me down privately.

I used to have very long hair, so I am no stranger to these "random" pat downs. The TSA has been yanking longhairs and brown people and poor folks out of line for additional pat downs for years. I once sat at a gate for an hour and checked who got pulled for the "random" pat downs, and I found that if you were white and wore a coat and tie, you stood very little chance of getting selected, but if you were shabbilly dressed, long-haired, or brown, you were about four times as likely to get jacked up than a bidnessman.

Finally, one more note about KCI -- KCI is one of the half dozen airports that uses private security rather than TSA employees, although they are under the supervision of an on-site TSA supervisor. I have had more trouble with these pseudo-TSA droids at KCI than I have had anywhere in the country except Newark, where the TSA staff is made up exclusively of people from New Jersey who were too stupid to pass the police officer civil service test. And I'm here to tell you that if you think replacing TSA with private security would be an improvement, you are sorely mistaken. The same rules will be there, but they will be enforced by people who get paid private security wages with no benefits packages, and the turnover is huge,

I always get to the airport well ahead of my departure time to allow for time to talk to the on-site TSA supervisor when the rent-a-droids overreach their authority or don't know the rules as well as I do. I've talked with the TSA supervisors so much they say "Hi" when we pass in the hallway.

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scott3460 3 years, 4 months ago

A stronger union would be helpful. Imagine being forced to undertake such abusive and humiliating searches or stand by and use the xray machines of questionable safety and having no real recourse. I guess when you live under a right wing regime you come to accept that employees are mere chattel to be used, abused and then discarded. A stronger employee voice would have helped in this matter.

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Flap Doodle 3 years, 4 months ago

In other news, Pedo-bear has been named the new official mascot of TSA.

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Roland Gunslinger 3 years, 4 months ago

Metal detectors and bomb sniffing dogs located nearby is all you need.

If the dog alerts on something you then have probable cause to do a pat down or "enhanced screening".

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Liberty_One 3 years, 4 months ago

They are not trying to save lives. Searching five year-old girls does not save lives.

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jmadison 3 years, 4 months ago

As part of their protocol, do the TSA agents change gloves between patdowns?

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Tom Shewmon 3 years, 4 months ago

I think it's odd that now in general, the left---the left's pundits at least---are OK with this and the conservatives are not so much. When W was in office the lefties kicked and screamed about every anti-terror measure he instituted.

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