PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Passengers may be unhappy over long lines and enhanced security at the airports, but it’s a feeling shared by many at TSA.
“There’s a lot more tension both by officers, fellow officers, and passengers,” one Pittsburgh TSA officer told KDKA’s Jon Delano in an exclusive interview.
TSA officers don’t like the new aggressive pat-downs of passengers either.
“I truly feel that it is morally and ethically wrong to do it,” the agent noted. “This does not make flying safer. It’s just taking away American citizens rights.”
And all the horror stories at other airports only make things worse.
“Everybody shudders when they hear that because they know that is not what we’re supposed to be doing,” the agent said.
Although trained, every officer has a different way of doing pat-downs, leading to inconsistencies.
“If you do it properly, you’re not touching the genitalia. But there is so much room for error, that’s where the problem comes because you’re in such close proximity of the areas that you are checking, it could happen.”
And some officers are more aggressive than others.
“Some people have worked in the military, some people have worked in the police force.”
But some at TSA question if the new rules are making anyone safer.
“I myself would be just as confident flying before these new procedures took place as I would be flying right now.”
The irony is that the person most likely subjected to an enhanced pat-down is not someone acting suspiciously.
It’s America’s seniors that are most often the targets of a pat-down, says this local TSA officer.
“These are your mother, your father, your grandparents. They’re the ones who have to put up with this every time they fly.”
And it breaks the heart of some local TSA officers.
“Just the looks on their faces, some of them, the fear.”
America’s older folks seem targeted because their artificial hips, knees, plates, and pace-makers most often trigger the metal detectors.
“They are the ones who get the brunt of the pat downs. Most of the American public will not have any difference in their screening. The people who alarm the MAG are the ones that will get this invasive pat down.”
And it targets the wrong people, some TSA officers believe.
“The ones who are least likely to be terrorists, the elderly, are the most likely to get the pat downs?” KDKA’s Jon Delano asked a local TSA officer.
“Correct. And that’s the big problem with this system.”
One local agent says, ironically, the controversial full body scanner may be better for seniors because it may avoid a pat-down, a pat-down, he says, that violates basic American values.
“It goes back to, ‘Do upon others as you would wish others to do upon you.’ And I would not want that done to me, or my family, or my mother, or my grandmother.”