DFW AIRPORT (CBSDFW.COM) – Days after the state House of Representatives approved a bill making it illegal for TSA agents to inappropriately touch travelers during a pat down, officials announced that agents were not found to be in the wrong on any of the 12 complaints filed at DFW Airport in the past seven months.
Officials said about 10 million passengers have been screened during that time period. The Transportation Security Administration reported anywhere between 45,000 and 50,000 are screened daily at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport and about 1,500 of those – less than three percent – are patted-down.
However, security screening is still seen as rigorous to some, and enhanced pat-downs have become fodder for concern.
“Strange people touching you in places you wouldn’t let your friends touch – that’s a little ridiculous,” traveler Joel Harris said.
TSA officials cleared the air over misconceptions about their security practices.
“Are we concerned about a person’s privacy? Yes – very much so. We’re also concerned about security – so we seek to strike a balance,” TSA spokesperson Luis Casanova said.
Casanova says pat-downs are required for three specific reasons: A passenger opts not to use either the body scanners or metal detectors; a passenger sets off a metal detector; or a passenger is randomly chosen for a pat-down.
“Our officers are professionals and they handle this professionally – our concern is anything that might be concealed underneath the clothes,” Casanova said.
Some travelers say the screenings are a small inconvenience to pay for safer skies.
“It was very professional – they were doing their job. It wasn’t sexual at all. Doctors do more stuff to me,” traveler Pat Furgoni said.
“It’s really just a part of travel and people just need to start accepting that,” Jeremiah Bapherwood said.
TSA says all 12 complaints were resolved and no agent was found to be in the wrong. During the most high-profile complaint on April 21, former Miss USA Susie Castillo alleged she was “molested” during a TSA pat down at DFW Airport.
Casanova told CBS News that the screener was questioned and the pat down was determined to be appropriate and by-the-books.
TSAa also has cameras at every checkpoint that capture every agent’s move. Tape is reviewed when a complaint is filed. Last Friday, the State House passed the restriction that would make TSA pat-downs of breasts, buttocks or genitals that would be deemed “offensive” a crime.
If convicted, a TSA agent could face a $4,000 fine and up to one year in jail.
In a response, TSA told state lawmakers, the Constitution prevents states from regulating federal government.