WASHINGTON — A 10-year-old girl’s father is crying foul over Transportation Security Administration procedures after a security officer patted down his daughter for nearly two minutes during an airport security check.
“I was HELPLESS while my 10 yr (sic) old daughter was ASSULTED (sic) infront (sic) of me,” Kevin Payne, the girl’s father, wrote in a video of the pat-down he posted online on January 1. “Watching this heinous act makes me SICK to my stomach.”
Payne in the video also repeatedly described the female TSA officer’s actions as groping and said TSA officers initiated the additional screening after finding a Capri Sun drink in her bag. Passengers are not allowed to bring liquids over 3 ounces past security checkpoints.
The TSA said the further screening was sparked by the presence of the drink, and that a cell phone in the child’s bag also set off a screening machine’s alarm during a security check leading to the pat-down at North Carolina’s Raleigh-Durham International Airport.
A TSA spokesperson rejected the father’s accusations of improper conduct and said the officer’s pat-down “followed approved procedures.”
“TSA screening procedures allow for the patdown of a child under certain circumstances. The process by which the child was patted down followed approved procedures,” the spokesperson said in a statement.
Payne told NBC San Diego he and his daughter, Vendela, were held up at the TSA security checkpoint for about an hour as a result of the pat-down and additional screenings. The TSA said the pat-down lasted about two minutes and that the rest of the time was spent “mitigating the concerns of the father and discussing screening procedures.”
The TSA modified its screening procedures for children 12 and under in recent years to reduce the likelihood of pat-downs but did not ban the practice altogether. TSA officers are instructed to work with parents of children to resolve any alarms.
In Payne’s video of the incident, a female TSA officer can be seen patting down the 10-year-old’s arms, torso, legs and waist.
In a comment he later posted below the video, Payne conceded that he might be “over-reacting” but said he feels “strongly that this could have been handled in a better way while still insuring (sic) the safety of all passengers.”
The 10-year-old told NBC San Diego that she “felt like screaming the whole time.”