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TSA's top official addresses 6-year-old's pat down

Administrator John Pistole says current procedures were followed but they will be changed.
BY JENNIFER PALMER jpalmer@opubco.com Modified: April 14, 2011 at 10:11 pm •  Published: April 14, 2011
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Facing recent criticism of the Transportation Security Administration's procedures, the head of the federal agency says he is working to bring a better balance of privacy and security to U.S. airports.

Speaking during a luncheon in Oklahoma City, TSA Administrator John Pistole said travelers can expect changes — including to the protocol that allowed the recent pat-down of a 6-year-old girl in a New Orleans airport.

Pistole, who took on his role July 1, said he is working to implement changes that would categorize certain passengers, such as children, as trusted travelers and give then a different screening experience. Travelers can expect to see changes by the end of the year.

However, he said the TSA screener who handled the girl's pat-down acted appropriately, and called the worker and thanked her for her professionalism.

TSA has been criticized for its security procedures after a video of the girl being screened was posted on YouTube.

The TSA Blog Girl's pat-down sparks anger

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At a glance

Pat-downs for kids

Kim Wagner, customer service manager for TSA in Oklahoma City, said very few children receive pat-downs. When one becomes necessary, the following procedures apply:

A child is not separated from their parent.

A modified pat-down is used.

A screener of the same gender will conduct the pat-down.

The screener will explain the process to the child and parent as it is being conducted.

A parent may request to have the screening conducted in private.

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