BALTIMORE (WJZ) — A new comprehensive pat-down police by TSA officers is now in effect at the nation’s airports, including BWI Marshall, as part of an effort to improve security screening.
During a routine check, everything goes into a box for x-ray screening — which means metal detectors and high-tech scanners that see through clothing.
But for some, there will also be a pat-down by a TSA officer, a hands-on security technique that will now be used more comprehensively.
“I think there’s enough security. We don’t need more pat-downs,” says one traveler.
However, a 2015 internal review revealed TSA officers failed to detect 95 percent of explosives and weapons smuggled through checkpoints by undercover investigators.
People who depend upon that detection for their safety, fault a pat-down program that varied from airport to airport:
“If the person doing the searching does not do it properly, it’s of no value. Period,” says Denny Kelly, a retired airline captain.
TSA says pat-downs have been standardized into a single procedure all agents must learn and are tested on before ever touching a person.
“It’s needed. Whatever TSA is going to do I’m in support of it. It’s going to add a couple of minutes to my travel, I’d rather be safe,” says air traveler Doug Hoyle.
But some find it embarrassing and invasive:
“To be patted down and other uncomfortable positions. Not what I’m looking forward to,” says air traveler Susan Dawson.
Those automatically subject to pat-downs can opt out of the technological screening, and the same goes for refusing to be screened by canines trained to sniff out explosives.
There’s also the strategy of unpredictable security measures, patting down people at random:
“I’d rather be safe and get to where I’m going, so if you have to pat me down, go for it,” says air traveler Colleen Hoyle.
Because there’s no refusing it if you’re selected and want to get on a plane. However, for those who would rather not be patted down in public, TSA is offering private screening rooms with two officers present and the option of having a companion witness the pat-down.