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Administrator Pistole Reaches Out to Passenger for Pat-down Mishap at DTW

Wednesday, November 24, 2010
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*** Update 1/27/2011 Readout of Special Counselor Kimberly Walton’s Participation in a Meeting with Thomas Sawyer and Advocacy Organizations ***

Administrator Pistole has reached out to the gentleman whose urostomy bag leaked during secondary screening at DTW. The Administrator promised to look into the incident. We’re reviewing the training that’s already being provided to our officers to see if needs to be updated. When our officers are hired, they are given extensive training on screening passengers with disabilities and they continue to receive recurring training throughout their career. TSA has established a coalition of over 70 disability-related groups and organizations to help us understand the concerns of persons with disabilities and medical conditions. These groups have assisted TSA with integrating the unique needs of persons with disabilities into our airport operations.

Also, keep in mind that passengers with disabilities can contact one of our Customer Support Managers to coordinate their screening. This way, they can have a chance to speak with an expert and explain the best possible way to be screened prior to arriving at the airport.

Bob Burns
TSA Blog Team

Comments

Submitted by Anonymous on

A Department of Homeland Security audit of TSA training procedures contradicts your statement

http://www.wired.com/images_blogs/threatlevel/2010/11/tsa_training.pdf

“TSOs described rushing through course material without devoting the attention needed to retain the lessons,” reads the report....

“TSA officials agreed that if TSOs hurry through training courses because they are not being allocated sufficient time by management or they do not have access to training computers, they may not receive adequate or quality training.”

Submitted by Aaron on

I think you need to take a lesson from Zappos in terms of customer service. No amount of "training" is going to take someone who is, in general, rude and vulgar to customers and turn them into a happy-to-serve-you personality.

The key to success is having employees who take pride and care about their job. I don't think the screener in this situation gave a hoot about the person they were rubbing down. Quit hiring, and continuing to employ these people who are on a power trip.

Would you rather have 20 rude and underpaid employees at a checkpoint that aren't doing a good job, or 15 that are paid better, and doing a commensurate job?

Submitted by Mikeq on

To me, the real issue was that the TSA employee chose not to listen to the passenger. This is where the training should focus.

Submitted by Sandra on

"Also, keep in mind that passengers with disabilities can contact one of our Customer Support Managers to coordinate their screening."

The applesauce lady tried this and we all know what grief she got.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Can I get a copy of my TSA scan after I get through security?

Submitted by Anonymous on

Why have you created a screening protocol that requires gentlemen like the man you left soaking in his own urine to expose their ostomy bags to your screeners in the first place? This is not an unexpected result, and when you unveiled these idiotic strip-search scanners many people wanted to know exactly what your protocol would be for ostomy patients. Apparently the answer is to leave them drenched in their own urine. Disgusting.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Good, he should. The thing is that the recent controversy over the pat downs and naked scan/radiation machines is just showing the rest of the public what frequent fliers have been saying for a while: The TSA does not care about anything but their dumb procedures.

If you claim the TSA agents receive extensive training before they can work with the public, either that training needs to be doubled or changed. The bark, they yell, they are rude, they make everyone feel guilty, they act like little dictators! This case of the man with the urine bag leaking is just another example.

The TSA agents at each checkpoint are rude, don't care, and ARE one of the biggest problems in the system.

Submitted by Anonymous on

He reached out? Did he use the front or the back of his hand?

Submitted by Anonymous on

Please tell us EXACTLY how to request new gloves on the TSA employee who is performing our pat-down. I don't want to be touched in private places with a glove which has been worn when touching other peoples private places.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Once again TSA proves they have no foresight. Shoe bomber? Now you have to remove your shoes. Shampoo bomber? Now your liquids are restricted. Underwear bomber? Now you have to go through the x-ray machine or get an "enhanced" pat-down. Printer cartridge bomber? Now printer cartridges are banned. Guy gets his own urine spilled on him? Now TSA is actually going to provide some kind of training. I understand you can't foresee everything, but you've got to be more pro-active. This kind of behavior just proves how totally inept the "security" you provide really is. One of these days somebody who isn't totally incompetent is going to succeed with some kind of attack; there's nothing you can do to get around it. I just pray it isn't a butt-bomb, otherwise (if past behavior is any indication) TSA will implement mandatory cavity searches.

Submitted by Somethingone on

Your efforts to "reach out" to people with medical conditions and disabilities reflect the usual able-bodied attitude towards those who do not fit the social "norm."

Your new policy of having a passenger with a disability call a "coordinator" is a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act, as well as the Fourth Amendment. A person with disabilities should not have to jump through hoops to be treated like a human being! In cases where a policy affects the individual, it is the responsibility of the PEOPLE CREATING THE IMPEDIMENT to make the environment the "least restrictive" possible. And the TSA is utterly failing to do so!

Not to mention - I don't think there are many people with disabilities employed by the TSA. Therefore, it's not *our* job to explain the "best possible way to be screened" to one of your agents. That's YOUR job.

Submitted by Anonymous on

So... what have you learned from consultations with with organizations which help victims of sexual assault? ...with organizations which help people with PTSD?

I'm being facetious, of course. It's clear that TSA gives orders and never listens to feedback.

Submitted by Anonymous on

The fact is that you people screw up a lot more often than you should, and also catch zero terrorists.

Submitted by Dead Dog Bounce on

While you are on the outreach, could you please ask him about the legal basis for the $11k fine for refusing an enhanced pat-down.

Also, could ask him to outline the legal process for an appeal against such a fine, as threatened to John Tyner.

Thanks.

Submitted by Anonymous on

In other words, people with disabilities can say just get used to not seeing families or traveling for business until saner rules prevail. You should be ashamed.

Submitted by Anonymous on

How about dealing with *my* disability? I am unable to stomach "trained" government "officers" abusing the Constitutional rights of Americans. I'm warning the TSA now - I may become physically ill when/if treated the way thousands are treated every day.

Submitted by Detroit Dave on

I am now more terrorfied of going through airport security, than I am of a terrorist attack. Do I need to rethink safety?

These new procedures are clearly a joke, considering the TSA has never actually caught any terrorists with it's heavy handed techniques. I will be flying today, and will be publicly demanding that that the TSA stop violating our Fourth Amendment rights of unreasonable search and seizure.

Submitted by Anonymous on

When Pistole leaves the TSA, is he going to make millions selling equipment to the TSA like Chertoff did? That's a pretty good racket!

Submitted by Anonymous on

I've been checked by my state and approved to carry a concealed weapon. Why can't that be enough to bypass screening and carry my pistol on an airplane flight? Bearing arms HAS recently been found to be a Constitutional Right. Since passenger intervention has saved more planes than the TSA ever dreamed of, wouldn't this be a very good thing?

Submitted by Aaron W on

Blogger Bob, once again proving that "Sorry" really is the hardest word.

No apology? No acknowledgment that the TSA screener screwed up? Just "reaching out" to a passenger boarding a plane with urine in his pants? Nice.

Submitted by Anonymous on

You guys don't get it. What you should have said in this post was: "We were wrong. We screwed up. We humiliated this poor man. It was inexcusable. The person who did it has been fired."

Submitted by Anonymous on

Ah, the old "Ask for forgiveness, not for permission" excuse. Sunrise, sunset.

And I bet this doesn't get posted. None of mine ever do.

Submitted by J R on

It your agents were the least bit competent this never would have happened in the first place. Now you try to present it as some sort of great benevolence by Administrator Pistole. What a crock! Why did the agents involved act so carelessly and inhumanely?

Oh, wait... I know... they're TSA. Their job is to be careless and inhumane. You treat passengers just like lifeless pieces of meat.

Also, I bet this guy was hesitant about speaking out because of the possible threat of an $11k fine and a legal proceeding brought against him. Those threats that you make against Americans speaking out against their government are very effective.

Submitted by Anonymous on

So are the officers involved going to be reprimanded, disciplined, or fired?

Is the traveler whose clothes were soaked in urine going to receive counseling, or at least reimbursement for cleaning his clothing?

Did the officers even change their gloves before going back out to pat down more passengers?

Submitted by Your Friend Ethel on

This would have never happened if you truly had "Highly trained and professional staff". Frequent Travelers know the truth.


So what about the TSA employee from ATL that is in jail for sexual assault right now. I dont for a minute that this is a "isolated incident" but more indicative of a more extensive endemic problem that is from bottom and top with in TSA.

Whats wrong curtis you feeling the heat under your feet from people getting mad and going to the news instead of the useless complaint process that are never answered. I can speak of 5 serious complaints that have never been addressed even though you said "you looked into them" and found no record. hmmm thats odd thats because they were thrown in the trash rather then addressing them. I guess thats how you have such a low complaint rate because its easier to deny theirs a problem when you throw the complaints in the trash.

Interesting optoutday observation in the 3 airports i have been at today, that either the scanners are off or that the "random" selection level is lower then normal its about 1n10 from 1n5. Pistole your comments about being "irresponsible" is irresponsible yourself you have purposely ignored data that said these scanners arent effective in finding objects, this has been pointed out by isreali security experts as well as other security experts around the world.

Then there are the statistics that show the risk of dying in a plane crash as a result of terrorism is about the same as being struck by lighting 5times in a row and winning the powerball lottery all in the same day.

Mean while each month more americans are killed on american highways then were killed in 9/11, and the ecomomic damage from those wrecks each month is more then the economic damage and loss is greater then 9/11, so why is the narrow focus on passengers when there are so many exposed back doors (cargo in the belly, airport staff, ramp workers, fuelers, caters, TSAs own staff where there are many many reports of theft) where people arent checked


TSA Delenda Est


This comment probably wont see the light of day but thats okay, i have a copy of it to send onto the OIG, ACLU and EPIC, since curtis you seem to think that its legal and acceptable to quash first amendment rights. despite the laws of the land saying otherwise.

Submitted by Your Friend Ethel on

This would have never happened if you truly had "Highly trained and professional staff". Frequent Travelers know the truth.


So what about the TSA employee from ATL that is in jail for sexual assault right now. I dont for a minute that this is a "isolated incident" but more indicative of a more extensive endemic problem that is from bottom and top with in TSA.

Whats wrong curtis you feeling the heat under your feet from people getting mad and going to the news instead of the useless complaint process that are never answered. I can speak of 5 serious complaints that have never been addressed even though you said "you looked into them" and found no record. hmmm thats odd thats because they were thrown in the trash rather then addressing them. I guess thats how you have such a low complaint rate because its easier to deny theirs a problem when you throw the complaints in the trash.


TSA Delenda Est


This comment probably wont see the light of day but thats okay, i have a copy of it to send onto the OIG, ACLU and EPIC, since curtis you seem to think that its legal and acceptable to quash first amendment rights. despite the laws of the land saying otherwise.

Submitted by Your Friend Ethel on

Interesting optoutday observation in the 3 airports i have been at today, that either the scanners are off or that the "random" selection level is lower then normal its about 1n10 from 1n5. Pistole your comments about being "irresponsible" is irresponsible yourself you have purposely ignored data that said these scanners arent effective in finding objects, this has been pointed out by isreali security experts as well as other security experts around the world.

Then there are the statistics that show the risk of dying in a plane crash as a result of terrorism is about the same as being struck by lighting 5times in a row and winning the powerball lottery all in the same day.

Mean while each month more americans are killed on american highways then were killed in 9/11, and the ecomomic damage from those wrecks each month is more then the economic damage and loss is greater then 9/11, so why is the narrow focus on passengers when there are so many exposed back doors (cargo in the belly, airport staff, ramp workers, fuelers, caters, TSAs own staff where there are many many reports of theft) where people arent checked


TSA Delenda Est


This comment probably wont see the light of day but thats okay, i have a copy of it to send onto the OIG, ACLU and EPIC, since curtis you seem to think that its legal and acceptable to quash first amendment rights. despite the laws of the land saying otherwise.

Submitted by Anonymous on

http://edition.cnn.com/2010/US/11/23/pistole.threat.delay/


"Pistole said some passenger descriptions of the procedures are "so wildly outside the standard operating protocols that it just absolutely should not be happening. If it is, then we'll take appropriate action."

"If we receive any complaints from a passenger about something happening, then we immediately follow up both with that passenger and with our security officers," he said."

.....................
When will this start happening?

Submitted by Anonymous on

Nice job trying to pin responsibility for a successfull screening on the disabled. You should have trained staff and not expect us to try and locate competence within your organisation. Simply disgusting.

Submitted by Anonymous on

I think I'm going to puke

Submitted by Anonymous on

Why wasn't he arrested for smuggling liquids? I demand to know.

Submitted by Anonymous on

My dictionary defines "mishap" as "an unlucky accident." Despite your meaningless assurance that a week of rushed, computer-based modules gives you a "highly trained" "sensitive" workforce, this was absolutely inevitable.

And "leaked" is the wrong word-- Mr. Sawyer had urine poured on him.

Submitted by RB on

How come one of TSA's Atlanta BDO's didn't sense that their co-worker is a pervert who was going to abduct and rape a person?

Don't BDO's read peoples micro-expressions?

More evidence that TSA does a poor job in screening the screeners and wasting billions of dollars on a non-functional program.

Oh, the acts of one TSA employee do reflect on the whole organization.

Submitted by Anonymous on

I can guess what's going to happen here. The mainstream media players with their gnatlike attention spans will get tired of reporting on the TSA abusing people with disabilities. Eventually these horrible incidents will just be accepted as breaking a few eggs to make an omelet.

Submitted by Anonymous on

What puzzles me most is the fact that TSA has all of this info on the TSA.GOV website on how they're trained to deal with persons who have disabilities and medical devices. Then we here about this? The man told the TSA individual that he had this and was ignored.

Thinking the OIG report was right on when it said training is poor and needs major changes. Pistole's apology was the right thing to do. But, in addition, the TSA person who did this should have been identified and held up to the same public embarrassment!

As one with a serious hearing disability I'm very worried about my next experience with TSA.

Submitted by Avxo on
Your friend Ethel wrote: "This comment probably wont see the light of day but thats okay, i have a copy of it to send onto the OIG, ACLU and EPIC, since curtis you seem to think that its legal and acceptable to quash first amendment rights. despite the laws of the land saying otherwise."

LOL... Seriously... LOL.

Having a comment that's not approved on a blog is a quashing your First Amendment rights? Also, please note. It's properly written as First Amendment, with the F and the A capitalized.

What law school did you go to Ethel? You know, so aspiring lawyers know to stay about 150 miles away from it.

But enough sarcasm: It's ridiculous to suggest that having a moderated blog (whether run by a government agency or not) and not getting your comment approved is quashing your First Amendment rights.

The First Amendment does not require that you be provided with a platform from which to speak. So it cannot reasonably be construed as preventing the government from creating a blog that solicits comments but has both a acceptable comment policy and active moderation.

Questions?
Submitted by Anonymous on

This is a complete invasion of a person's privacy. This is absolutely insane. I will protest these body scans and pat downs that these TSA employees are operating. The next time I travel I will wear a bikini like the woman I saw on Robin Meade this morning.

I know of so many people now who do not fly because of these new security regulations. It's a disgrace.

Submitted by Anonymous on

I have an ostomy. I am NOT disabled. I cannot imagine how calling ahead to coordinate my screening at my local airport would help. Does this mean that as I approach the screening area, someone will loudly shout, "Ostomy girl is here!" A few years ago, my mother was loudly referred to as a HIP because her artificial joint set off alarms.

Submitted by RB on

The First Amendment does not require that you be provided with a platform from which to speak. So it cannot reasonably be construed as preventing the government from creating a blog that solicits comments but has both a acceptable comment policy and active moderation.

Questions?

November 24, 2010 11:13 PM

..................

Actions by the government to chill free speech are not permissible.

The United States government, DHS, and TSA chose to create this blog.

That being, it is a violation to restrict any contributors speech. This blog is decidedly political as is the speech hear.

I would think that a group of people whose mission is to defend the Constitution of the United States would do just that rather than violate that oath.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Yeah, Mr. Pistole reached out to apologize...but only after the media got a hold of the story and having his arm twisted as the result by an outraged American public!

If he really meant it, he would of clamped-down on the lack of professionalism and bad attitude displayed by TSO's nationwide toward the American flying public.

Submitted by Steve Scottsdale on

I'll tell you all what drives me crazy. We are told that all this screening is necessary to prevent another shoe or underwear bomber. But both those guys boarded their flights in Europe. IOW, the bad guys have already figured out how to deal with the TSA. They don't.

So the TSA is guarding the wrong rathole simply because it's the only one available.

Submitted by Anonymous on

This post is a very interesting insight into the culture of the TSA, and what a smarmy, disingenuous, blame-the-victim post it is. The poor man's bag did not leak, as you say it did. It was dislodged by the insensitive and heavy handed actions of a clearly undertrained TSO, who then left the man to struggle with his humiliation alone. But as you say, it was kinda his fault anyway, because he did not put a big flashing light on his head saying 'I am disabled'.

A bureaucracy that refuses to acknowledge its mistakes and learn from them is one of the more dangerous forces on the face of the earth. Rather than sugar coat and use weasel words, you would be much better off saying "This was a shocker, it never should have happened, we apologise without reservation, and we promise to learn from it".

Sadly, this post shows that the TSA is incapable of such humility.

Submitted by W West on

I was yelled at by a TSA screener the last time I flew out of Abq, NM. He had told me if I had a belt on to take it off. I didn't hear him (I'm almost deaf!) so when I walked thru the scanner it went off. He then yelled "I THOUGHT I TOLD YOU TO TAKE OFF YOUR BELT!" Such rude behavior to a person WHO HELPS PAY YOUR SALARY!

Submitted by Anonymous on

Hey, Blogger Bob:

Is Pistole going to apologize for the
TSA ignoring its own screening rules on breastmilk, holding mother for 45 mins in special screening to teach her a lesson ... all on TSA videotape: http://www.menwithfoilhats.com/2010/11/x-ray-nation-tsa-glass-box-mother...

Can't wait to hear the TSA spin on this one.

Frankly, your boss and the TSA just needs to simply apologize to the entire nation for how it's destroyed any pleasure in flying and hurting innocents in the name of "security".

As always, screen saved because of the low acceptance rate.

Submitted by Anonymous on

The victim of this farce is a better person than me. I would have told Pistole to contact my attorney then I would have hung up on him.

Submitted by Anonymous on

You know, this just shows that the TSA doesn't have the necessary training at all to do what they say they're there to do. If they don't know how to deal with a urostomy bag, that's a big security hole. They should know exactly what the main varieties of urostomy bag look like, what they look like full and how to deal with them safely if they've been weaponised. That could be anything up to a litre of liquid explosive or a bacterial culture on the plane or splashed around the terminal because the training just isn't fit for purpose.
Do they even have bomb boxes for storing potential explosives in until explosives experts can render them safe, or do they just throw these suspicious liquids they confiscate into a generic bin and dump them in the trash without a second thought?

This debacle and many others show that TSA staff are not competent enough to provide fair and equal treatment to all passengers and are not competent enough to protect travellers from known threats and easily predicted ones.

Submitted by Anonymous on

I'm not encouraged by these types of efforts - wimpy apologies and vague, sheepish comments like "oh, that shouldn't have happened - we're looking into it." I will only feel that you're taking things seriously when I hear, "the TSO involved in the incident has been fired, and is subject to prosecution."

Incidentally, you REALLY need to address the glove issue on this blog. I'm far more afraid of catching MRSA than the possibility of an underwear bomber on my flight.

Submitted by Wietog on

How to turn the controversy around:
Scatter it!

You should change the scanner system to take and send images of different body sections to several different screens simultaneously.

There could either be one person checking the screen all split up OR the body section images could be sent randomly to several different reviewers.

That way, passengers aren't being "ogled", and the reviewers would pay much closer attention to each body section (i.e., arm, leg, waist to hip, neck to waist, head, etc.)

Separating the images into different quadrants, and sorting them randomly on the screen and in the finished picture, essentially.

I think this could be a viable solution, especially if the entire image is never put together unless something suspicious or criminal occurs.

ALSO: Instead of having pat-downs using latex-gloved hands, have the security team use thicker gloves with sensors attached. Less invasive, more clinical.

Submitted by Omars on

The bag didn't "leak" it was spilled by a thoughtlessly cruel TSO. There's no accident when it's carelessness.

there might be retraining... that's all?? How about actually punishing the people who made the unforgivable mistake? At the very least, the TSO should now be unemployed and his supervisors/trainers should be reprimanded.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Let's say that someone does actually contact a TSA Customer Support Manager (which you can't do through that link--it's for compliments or complaints) in advance. How can you ensure that any special screening procedures will be followed? How do we know that the officers and managers on duty will actually pay attention when the traveller says that they've made arrangements through the TSA? If I have something printed out, what happens if I'm pulled aside for a screening and I'm then told I can't touch my belongings?

Sorry, but I've just heard of too many examples where a traveller knows the TSA regulations and procedures better than the gate officers.

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