Effectiveness of T&A pat-downs questioned
ATLANTA, Ga. -- The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) announced today that it is taking action to reverse what has become a public relations nightmare for the agency regarding invasive and humiliating pat-down procedures by its airport screeners.
Leslie Handson, spokesperson for the TSA said that it has entered into a service contract with Hooters of America, Inc. to oversee the recruitment, selection, training and staffing of additional security screeners who will eventually be located at all major U.S. airports.
Betty Fredan, public relations director for Hooters, an Atlanta-based casual dining restaurant operator and franchiser, said that the company "will use trainers located in the United States, augmented by a team from Europe, to help instruct passenger screeners in proven pat-down techniques."
The company reports that those techniques, called Touch and Alert (T&A), have already been successfully implemented in Italy. "There," said Fredan, "they have have lead to a decrease in weapons smuggling attempts onto airplanes and at the same time have lead to an increase in overall passenger satisfaction with screening operations."
In the U.S., Hooters personnel trained in the T&A system will serve as special passenger screeners who will perform full-body pat-down searches of passengers willing to tolerate the added time that the procedure takes. In tests conducted earlier this year at airports in Monterey, Duluth, Santa Fe and Bozeman, the only problems encountered were delays due to some passengers passing through security screening as much as 12 times.
One obstacle to full implementation of the program system-wide has been raised by the Christian Libation Movement (CLM). Johnny Swageert, spokesperson for the CLM, has complained that the new T&A techniques are ineffective. "We have run undercover tests of our own," said Swageert, "and have discovered that most of the Hooters Girls employed as security screeners have no idea what they are doing. We have had agents who have had to endure repeated pat-downs by these women before they discovered concealed sticks of gum. One agent," said Swageert," had to pass through T&A screening over two dozen times before he was satisfied by the pat-down procedures."
Ms. Handson stated that the TSA is looking into the complaint.