Dear TSA: Where is your common sense patting down a hysterical 4-year-old?

I am wondering where the TSA’s common sense was when they patted down a hysterical 4-year-old girl.

And the girl’s parents and a Montana U.S. Senator are wondering the same thing according to The Associated Press. Here’s the story:

From The AP:

“The child’s grandmother, Lori Croft, told The Associated Press that Michelle Brademeyer and her daughter, Isabella, initially passed through security at the Wichita airport without incident. The girl then ran over to briefly hug Croft, who was awaiting a pat-down after tripping the alarm, and that’s when TSA agents insisted the girl undergo a physical pat-down.

Isabella had just learned about “stranger danger” at school, her grandmother said, adding that the girl was afraid and unsure about what was going on.

“She started to cry, saying ‘No I don’t want to,’ and when we tried talking to her she ran,” Croft said. “They yelled, ‘We are going to shut down the airport if you don’t grab her.’”

But she said the family’s main concern was the lack of understanding from TSA agents that they were dealing with a 4-year-old child, not a terror suspect.

“There was no common sense and there was no compassion,” Croft said. “That was our biggest fault with the whole thing — not that they are following security procedures, because I understand that they have to do that.”

Brademeyer, of Missoula, Mont., wrote a public Facebook post last week about the April 15 incident, claiming TSA treated her daughter “no better than if she had been a terrorist.” The posting was taken down Wednesday. Another post said the family had filed formal complaints with the TSA and the airport.

The TSA released a statement Tuesday saying it explained to the family why additional security procedures were necessary and that agents didn’t suspect or suggest the child was carrying a firearm.

“TSA has reviewed the incident and determined that our officers followed proper screening procedures in conducting a modified pat-down on the child,” the agency said.

The statement noted that the agency recently implemented modified screening procedures for children age 12 and younger to further reduce the need for pat-downs of children, such as multiple passes through a metal detector and advanced imaging technology.

“These changes in protocol will ultimately reduce — though not eliminate — pat-downs of children,” the statement said. “In this case, however, the child had completed screening but had contact with another member of her family who had not completed the screening process.”

U.S. Sen. Jon Tester, a Montana Democrat, pressed the TSA for more information Wednesday. Tester, a member of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, said he was concerned the TSA went too far.

“I am a staunch advocate for effective transportation security, but I’m also a strong advocate for common sense and the freedoms we enjoy as Americans,” Tester wrote to TSA Administrator John Pistole. “Any report of abuse of the power entrusted to officers of the TSA is especially concerning — especially if it involves children.”

In a phone interview from her home in Fountain Valley, Calif., Croft said Brademeyer tried to no avail to get TSA agents to use a wand on the frightened girl or allow her to walk through the metal detector again. She also said TSA agents wanted to screen her granddaughter alone in a separate room.

“She was kicking and screaming and fighting and in hysterics,” Croft said. “At that point my daughter ran up to her against TSA’s orders because she said, ‘My daughter is terrified, I can’t leave her.’”

The incident went on for maybe 10 minutes, until a manager came in and allowed agents to pat the girl down while she was screaming but being held by her mother. The family was then allowed to go to their next gate with a TSA agent following them.

Croft said that for the first few nights after coming home, Isabelle had nightmares and talked about kidnappers. She said TSA agents had shouted at the girl, telling her to calm down and saying the suspect wasn’t cooperating.

“To a 4-year-old’s perspective that’s what it was to her because they didn’t explain anything and she did not know what was going on,” Croft said. “She saw people grabbing at her and raising their voices. To her, someone was trying to kidnap her or harm her in some way.”

I think the parents are being quite reasonable. They understand the security concerns and they understand protocol but where was the common sense?

Why couldn’t the TSA agents take a few minutes let the little girl settle down and figure it all out calmly? Why not let the child walk through the metal detector again? Why not use a wand on her? I’m sure it’s would be scary as hell to have a stranger trying to touch you when you’re 4-years-old and don’t understand what is going on!

The TSA agents need more training with kids and apparently more training in how to use common sense — even the manager didn’t get it!

I am so glad this family’s Senator is on their side and helping to investigate and bring light to this.

What do you think? Common sense or always follow protocol?

42 comments Add your comment

Scotty

April 26th, 2012
12:26 am

This story just baffles me and seems to be another example of TSA agents who think they are more important than they are. Yes, TSA agents do need to do their job and it is an important job, but I just don’t see the need to ever pat down a child who has no idea what is going on. Since it doesn’t look like the TSA is ever going to get that message, I suppose I feel like TSA agents need some sensitivity training and need to be more sensitive to children who are probably already unsure of the situation and cannot understand what is going on and why it is going on. It is so sad to me that everyone, even infants are treated like threats until proven otherwise. Shouldn’t it be the other way around?

Fortunately every time I’ve flown with my kids we’ve had good experiences with TSA. The last time we flew we had one particularly nice TSA agent who really catered to the children (especially the three year old) to help them feel safe and unafraid of the screening process and my wife & I spoke with them about what to expect and how to behave during the experience. One thing that I do wonder about this story is how much the parents told the child about what was going to happen at the airport when they went through security. Did the parents tell the child that you can’t run back through security or did the mom try to stop her from running back through? That there were certain rules and ways to behave when being screened? The parents do seem to be very reasonable and I think have a legitimate claim here, I’m just curious if the child was prepared for the TSA screen experience by her parents at all.

DB

April 26th, 2012
12:28 am

Do NOT get me started on the TSA . . .

The majority of the agents are just like anyone else doing their job — they do it reasonably well, with little fuss. But oh, my goodness, sometimes it seems like they are robots! I recently went through the St. Louis airport security. In Atlanta, you are asked NOT to go through security with your boarding pass — your boarding pass and ID has already been scrutinized by a screener before you are permitted into the secure area. But at St. Louis, you are told to keep your boarding pass on you at all times. The boarding pass was checked THREE times in the space of 35 feet: Once by the initial screener, again by an agent standing 20 feet away, before you entered the scanner, and then, 10 feet away, by ANOTHER agent. It’s like they don’t trust each other to be able to READ a frickin’ boarding pass. Meanwhile, while agents were diligently studying boarding passes over and over again, there was one kid scanning the luggage. One. At. A. Time. If the Atlanta airport had been that slow, no one would EVER make a flight.

I once had a TSA agent suggest that I refrain from wearing an underwire bra because the wire shows up on the scanner, “and could possibly be used as a weapon.” I stared at him and then told him that if I were him, I’d be a lot more worried about ball point pens before I started worrying about women whipping out the underwires in their bras. I mean — REALLY?

I always said, if I won a nice big lottery, the first thing I’d be buying is a share of my own G6 and NEVER have to deal with TSA again. Blech. I don’t feel “safer” after running the TSA gauntlet — I generally just feel pissed.

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

April 26th, 2012
12:32 am

DB I am surprised they didn’t accuse you of making a threat talking about the ball point pens as a weapon. It wouldn’t have surprised me at all. It’s just dumb, inflexible thinking that leads to freaking out a kid and continuing with forcing a pat down when the kid is freaking out.

HM

April 26th, 2012
7:18 am

Just remember when dealing with the running joke known as the TSA, “…you can’t professionalize unless you federalize …”

Jeff

April 26th, 2012
7:20 am

If this were a regular business, people would lose their jobs. Government employee? No one is accountable.

Fred ™

April 26th, 2012
7:24 am

Thank you Mr. President George Bush and your WONDERFUL “Patriot Act” that went along with the creation of your equally WONDERFUL TSA………………

motherjanegoose

April 26th, 2012
7:31 am

comment one and no time to retype…have a nice day all!

Jeff

April 26th, 2012
7:51 am

Fred, it was actually Hillary that wanted to bring the TSA under the umbrella of the federal government. But let’s just agree that it was a bipartisan effort.

Voice of Reason

April 26th, 2012
7:57 am

See at the point where they started yelling at my child I would have gone off. Even if they threatened to shut down the airport I would have told them to go ahead and do it because once the press hears that they shut down the airport because TSA wouldn’t be reasonable with a scared 4 year old little girl…who looks bad then?

Children are not adults, they don’t think like adults, and they don’t reason like adults.
.

iggy

April 26th, 2012
8:00 am

Agree with Jeff.

On another note, those TSA employees arent qualified to cook french fries.

TSA =
The Stupid Agency
Thieving & Stealing Agency

TSA DON'TS

April 26th, 2012
8:22 am

Take a good look at some of the TSA Agents……they are more worried about dey hair weave than what’s going through the xray machine right in front of dey eyes. Or worried ’bout all they baby daddies, or who drank the most Schlitz Malt Liquore the night before or Hennessey. Not a single brain cell amoungst them….

This is why I will never get on an airplane again in my life!!!! I would rather drive, and see the country.

Fred ™

April 26th, 2012
8:35 am

Jeff

April 26th, 2012
7:51 am

Fred, it was actually Hillary that wanted to bring the TSA under the umbrella of the federal government. But let’s just agree that it was a bipartisan effort.
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Who created it Jeff? Why thta would be George Bush under the 107th Congress? WHo controlled the 107th Congress both house AND Senate? Why that would be the Republicans. Nothing “bipartisan” about it.

And, Fred...

April 26th, 2012
8:47 am

…don’t forget who expanded and expanded the TSA to its current debaucle of an agency – that would be the democratically controlled Congress from 2002 – 2010, or was it from 1998) and the unqualified Barry who lies about his “professorship” in a constitutional law class that was created for him so that he could say that he was a “scholar”(and for which his UC colleagues continually noted that he was not effective nor knowledgeable in that field), and he has continued to trample on the Constitution since he took office (and, you started this by bringing up the C student at Yale as being at fault related to this topic)…

☺☻Have A Smile!

April 26th, 2012
8:51 am

It’s security theater. An act put on under the guise of “keeping you safe.”

I’m amazed, and saddened, by the number of lemmings in America who think “OMG THEY’RE KEEPING US SAFE FROM THEM TERRORISTS!!! THINK OF THE CHILDREN!”

Pathetic.

☺☻Have A Smile!

April 26th, 2012
8:52 am

Who created it Jeff? Why thta would be George Bush under the 107th Congress? WHo controlled the 107th Congress both house AND Senate? Why that would be the Republicans. Nothing “bipartisan” about it.

Who gives a sh1t?

Roberta Higginbotham

April 26th, 2012
8:58 am

The TSA at airport security checkpoints has to be right 100% of the time. If all passengers – young and old – aren’t aware of, and can’t adequately prepare for, the TSA screening process, then I suggest they don’t fly. One screaming 4-year old can’t be allowed to stop the entire process in its tracks.

@TSA DONT’S – I’m glad you don’t plan to fly anymore. People like you just muck up the system for those of us who understand and comply with it. I’m sure you and your bigoted comments will be more than welcome on a bus or train.

Peachy

April 26th, 2012
9:01 am

I understand the TSA over stepped here and should have used common sense, but shouldn’t the parents be held accountable for parenting? This sounds to me like a 4 year old having a tantrum. I just wonder why the parents couldn’t control the child a little more and make her stop kicking, screaming, running…isn’t that what parents do?

Don’t get me wrong, I think TSA was crazy here and needed to take a step back and think it through, but I also think the parents should have prepared the child for the security procedures you have to go through when flying and how the TSA agents are like police men, etc. so she knew what to expect. Who knows maybe if they would have done this there would be no story…

mystery poster

April 26th, 2012
9:15 am

Remember that email that was going around last year: TSA bumper stickers:

“Can’t see London, can’t see France, until we see your underpants.”
“If we did our job any better we’d have to buy you dinner first.”
“Wanna fly? Drop your fly.”
“We are now free to move about your pants.”
“It’s not a grope, it’s a freedom pat.”
“TSA, touchin’ squeezin’ arrestin’ ”
“We handle more packages than the USPS.”

Fresh Spring

April 26th, 2012
9:23 am

I completely agree with the vast majority of comments here today and think the TSA was wrong on this.
No one will like this idea though because it’s too frightening to contemplate, yet could happen here….. What if a scene like that occurred again in LAX or ATL or JFK .. and the kid had a bomb strapped to her/him and set it off in the middle of hundreds ? This and similar evil scenes are a terrorists dream idea too abhorrent and terrifying for us to grasp. Yet, that is what could happen. Please beware of too lax a position on security. Remember, who would have thought to hijack multiple jets at once and crash them into buildings ?

Augusta

April 26th, 2012
9:34 am

I refuse to ever get on an airplane ever again. I refuse to give ANY money to Delta.

I much prefer to get in the car, and drive to my destination. Which means, I will never see Europe, not that I really care to. There is so much to see here in the United States of America and Canada to keep us busy for years to come!

Screw the TSA!!! Just a bunch of slackers who get paid to grope children and old ladies. Does anyone ever see a Middle Eastern man get patted down, how about a Middle Eastern Woman? Of course not…..They are the ones we have to worry about, not 4 year old girls running to hug gramma, or 93 year old ladies wearing Depends.

I am so over this crap!!

iggy

April 26th, 2012
9:39 am

Take a powder, Freddy-Boy. I think we can all agree. Well except the ObaManics who feast on ObaManure.

catlady

April 26th, 2012
9:54 am

In some places they strap explosives on small children, folks.

I cannot imagine anyone getting their jollies patting down a child.

I would also add that no, we can’t expect the TSA agents to spend minutes (with hundreds of people backing up) to calm the girl. Her parents should have prepared her for this possibility before trying to board, knowing that it was unlikely that it would be needed.

Yeah, the story sounds crazy, but this is the world we live in.

Peachy

April 26th, 2012
10:00 am

@catlady – I think we are on the exact same page! The TSA is doing their job and we may think it seems crazy, but didn’t we think planes flying into the WTC seemed crazy before 9/11…I try not to be a fear monger, but this is one area where I have no problem with the rules. Everyone has to follow the security rules, even children…

iggy

April 26th, 2012
10:01 am

“I think we are on the exact same page!”

In other words, “The Sky is falling, THE SKY IS FALLING!”

catlady

April 26th, 2012
10:01 am

My only bad experience with TSA: Going to Puerto Rico, my daughter packed just as prescribed, and followed every rule. Then, TSA told her she would have to leave items behind. She pointed out she was following, exactly, the TSA directive, and they said, “So what? We do it this way here.” and she was out quite a few bucks for something related to the toddler. Inexcusable.

catlady

April 26th, 2012
10:04 am

I might also add that some parents think the rules at school are crazy (and soemtimes they are right) but when you have to deal with 600 kids doing what your child is “harmlessly” doing, you would find out why it is not allowed.

Pissed!

April 26th, 2012
10:14 am

What happened to having a little common sense? Just smile at the little girl and ask the parent to tell her daughter to go stand with her grandmother. IS that so hard? Not….I need to search her cause she is over here too! What a bunch of loons!!

Voice of Reason

April 26th, 2012
10:21 am

An adult has a reasonable expectation that they may be searched for whatever reason before boarding a plane. An adult also has a reasonable expectation that their children may be searched before being allowed to board a plane. A responsible adult will do their best to try to explain to their small child what to expect from a security screening checkpoint before boarding a plane but that is where it ends, you have no control of what actually happens.

The fact is that no matter how much you try to prepare your four year old for whatever might happen they CANNOT be expected to act in a reasonable and rational manner in this situation because they have not yet learned how to control their emotions. All this four year old little girl knew was that strange people were yelling at her and wanted to touch her and that they were taking her away from her mommy.

I think some of you people tend to forget what it was like to actually BE a child.

Aquagirl

April 26th, 2012
10:33 am

Dear TSA: Where is your common sense patting down a hysterical 4-year-old?

Dear parents: Where is your common sense subjecting a hysterical 4 year old to a situation they aren’t equipped to handle? Flying means going through TSA checkpoints, and if your kid can’t handle that don’t expect the entire system to change for your precious snowflake.

DB

April 26th, 2012
10:46 am

As far as the TSA “keeping us safe”, I think that is an illusion. The only thing that is being accomplished is forcing people who want to do evil to have to work a little harder at it. The vast majority of travelers patienty (or not-so-patiently) winding their way through the lines at the airport are simply nice little sheep. Terrorists know the system far better than I do, and they are constantly coming up with new ways to game it. I don’t feel “safer” after running the gauntlet at at airport. In a country where one of the primary tenets of law is “innocent until proven guilty”, the moment you enter an airport, you are guilty until proven innocent. Going through airport security is a degrading exercise, having to strip off belts, shoes, etc. There is a tipping point between ensuring the safety of citizens and making security so oppressive that the very thing that the citizens values is eliminated.

Let’s face it, there are hundreds of general aviation airfields where planes come and go with very little oversight. There are 11 municipal airports in the Atlanta area, as well as four private airfields. Forcing business and vacation travelers to wind their way through elaborate security precautions at Hartsfield-Jackson is an ultimately futile exercise in trying to control the masses while leaving huge black holes of loopholes scattered around.

jarvis

April 26th, 2012
10:46 am

“In some places that strap explosive devices to young children”….sure. Not generally white children in Wichita trying to board a flight to Montana, but whatever.

The fact that the child had just gone through security and the parents offered to have her wanded or to go back through the detector should have been an indicator that the small American kid from the most sparcely populated state in the country was in all likelyhood clean, but common sense isn’t the government’s way. They have procedures in place and come hell or high water they will follow those procedures.

Bottom line, they don’t hire the brightest in the country to be TSA agents. While I can say there was a total escape from common sense here, it has to be expected. Intelligent people with the ability to logically reason are not what they are looking for in this position. They are too expensive and quite honestly too heady for what is needed in this job.

Complain all you want. This won’t get any better. Morons need jobs and the TSA needs morons. It’s a working relationship, but lack of common sense is one of the unforutnate negative side effects.

MMK Atlanta

April 26th, 2012
10:51 am

The problem here is that parents have to prepare their children and explain to them that we all have tobe “inspected”, thats its OK, nobody is going to hurt them. I believe that if a child is reassured by his/her mother that everything will be fine there shouldnt have any problem.
May be in the case of young children a female TSA agent , rather than a man,may be more reassuring to a young child
We live in a scary world and we have to take measures to protect our people the best way we can, who would have thought of an evil attack like 9/11 ?.

K's mom

April 26th, 2012
10:52 am

perfectly said DB and Jarvis….

ned

April 26th, 2012
11:01 am

Instead of a gentle “pat-down” perhaps the TSA should have given the little brat a good ole fashioned paddling.

Wemoweh

April 26th, 2012
11:07 am

I think Fred needs a pat down. With a sledgehammer.

Fetus Breath

April 26th, 2012
11:40 am

So Theresa, reading this blog makes me think you support the terrorists. Is that it? You want the terrorists to win? You don’t love your freedom?

Dr Moose

April 26th, 2012
11:40 am

Roberta
You remind me of Europe circa 1935
Shut up, be a sheeple and follow zee rules….please!
TSA are a bunch of megalomaniacal morons who vilote your 4 th amedmnent rights, but you are
Ok with that….typical

catlady

April 26th, 2012
3:08 pm

The vast majority of children who are molested are molested by the adults in their lives, not strangers, and not TSA agents!

catlady

April 26th, 2012
3:10 pm

jarvis, touche about Witchita and Montana, yet how many people expected Ok City?

DB

April 26th, 2012
4:49 pm

@catlady: No one “expects” a terrorist attack. That’ the whole point — the terror of the unknown and the unexpected. I can pretty much guarantee that a 4 year old wasn’t driving the truck bomb or bought forty 50-lb bags of ammonium nitrate in Oklahoma.

You can’t stop crazy.

Kat

April 29th, 2012
5:25 pm

I’m reminded of the brilliant guy who jumped a security checkpoint or kissed his gal one more time that shut the airport down. If TSA says we will shut the airport down, they mean it and then they will print your names – in the newspaper and on the “no-fly” list.

shaggy

April 30th, 2012
8:32 am

This is one issue that I am in full agreement with the Israelis. Racial profiling of those who are perpetrating terrorism…single them out, search them, watch them, search them again if you want, but give us back our rights.
It works. As much as the Israelis are hated, just how many El Al airliners have been blown up or flown into things?
This is not a racist thing. Those are the ones doing the terror. The peaceful religion .