June 24th, 2011
Airport security screeners must try to avoid invasive pat-down searches of children, the head of the U.S. Transportation Security Administration has stated.
The policy change, announced by TSA Administrator John Pistole at a Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee hearing, follows public outrage in April over a video showing a pat-down of a 6-year-old girl at Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport.
The TSA has been criticized for intrusive pat-downs of children and elderly travelers.
The agency says it will instruct airport screeners at checkpoints how to make repeated attempts to screen young children without invasive pat-downs. The instructions should reduce the number of pat-downs on children, the TSA says.
“As part of our ongoing effort to get smarter about security, Administrator Pistole has made a policy decision to give security officers more options for resolving screening anomalies with young children,” TSA spokesman Nicholas Kimball says.
The TSA says it expects to test an identity-based screening option for some passengers later this year. Under the program, travelers would voluntarily provide background information about themselves and possibly qualify for expedited screening.
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