Children 12 years old and younger may soon get to keep their shoes on at airport security checkpoints and will be patted down by Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officials using “less invasive methods.”
The information comes from testimony to Congress from Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, who said the new practices will roll out in coming months. Napolitano said the changes may not, however, be all-encompassing to ensure “unpredictability” in security screening.
Reports that the TSA does not use common sense when it screens air travelers abound. Young children and the elderly will still be subjected to random blanket searches, according to Napolitano’s rule of exception. Last year, the government began using a more invasive pat-down than what had been used in the past, involving screeners’ feeling
travelers’ genital and breast areas. The newly “modified” child pat-down will now involve several trips through the metal detector and imaging machines, to get a “clear picture” to ensure the child is not carrying explosives.
These steps, which are aimed at quelling dissent against invasive TSA procedures, come
within a week of the agency’s announcement that it will spend $44.8 million to expand its digital strip-search technologies to more airports in the United States.
“Currently, there are nearly 500 AIT [Advanced Imaging Technology] units at 78 airports nationwide. Today’s purchase of 300 millimeter wave units is off of an existing contract with L-3 Communications and includes the option to purchase an additional 200 units. President Obama’s fiscal 2011 budget included the purchase of 500 units, and the President’s fiscal 2012 budget requests funding for an additional 275 units,” said a TSA press release.
Another Department of Homeland Security (DHS) development announced in Napolitano’s address is a massive expansion of the “If You See Something, Say Something” campaign. A DHS press release said:
The “If You See Something, Say Something™” campaign originally partnered with the NFL in January 2011 during the Super Bowl XLVI, and is now expanding the campaign to the Arizona Cardinals, Baltimore Ravens, Chicago Bears, Cleveland Browns, and San Diego Chargers with digital and video materials displayed at each stadium. Similarly, the “If You See Something, Say Something™” campaign partnerships with MLB began last season and has now expanded to the Chicago White Sox and the Baltimore Orioles. The USTA has announced their partnership with the “If You See Something, Say Something™” campaign for a second year, and have displayed digital and print materials during all matches. Other partnerships with the “If You See Something, Say Something™” campaign have been recently launched by the states of Florida and Maryland, the cities of Baltimore and Newark, the Inaugural Baltimore Grand Prix, and state and major urban area fusion centers across the country.