TSA: Agents erred in search of elderly passengers

Reuters News
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Posted: Jan 18, 2012 3:03 PM
TSA: Agents erred in search of elderly passengers

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The Transportation Security Administration said its agents violated procedures by inspecting an elderly woman's colostomy bag screening another's back brace but denied claims the women were strip searched.

The women, Ruth Sherman, 88, of Sunrise, Florida, and Lenore Zimmerman, 85, of Long Beach, New York, complained they were strip searched by agents at New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport during the busy Thanksgiving travel holiday.

New York state Senator Michael Gianaris wrote to the TSA on their behalf, urging an investigation.

In response, TSA Assistant Secretary Betsy Markey wrote to Gianaris and said an investigation showed TSA employees had put a back brace worn by Zimmerman through an X-ray machine.

"It is not standard procedure for TSOs to screen back braces through the X-ray, and TSA apologizes for this employee's action," said the letter, which Gianaris shared with Reuters on Wednesday.

TSA agents visually inspected a colostomy bag worn by Zimmerman, the letter said, which also is not standard operating procedure.

At no point was either passenger asked to remove any clothing, the TSA said.

"TSA sincerely regrets any discomfort or inconveniences the passengers at JFK experienced," the letter said.

Agents at JFK would receive refresher training "on how to respectfully and safely screen passengers with disabilities or medical conditions to ensure all proper procedures are followed," Markey said in the letter.

(Reporting By Barbara Goldberg; Editing by Daniel Trotta)