TSA has come under fire for their treatment of an elderly woman in a wheelchair, as an agent was seen “excessively” patting her down during a security check. A video showing the incident has landed online, showing the 96-year-old woman being subjected to a “prolonged and repetitive” pat-down by airport security in Virginia. Many wonder why this level of security was necessary.
Jeanne LaBrier Clarkson posted the video of her mother, Evelyn LaBrier — in total, it was six minutes of patting the woman down as she sat in a wheelchair. Clarkson explained in the video: “The three of us were all in wheelchairs. Only my 96-year-old mother was subjected to this prolonged, repetitive search.”
Clarkson, her fiancé, and her mother were traveling to Indiana after a visit with her son in Maryland when they passed through security and were stopped by TSA screeners. They were told that LaBrier’s chest and pelvis areas needed to be patted down, according to Clarkson. A woman is heard on the video asking, “What the hell do you think she’s going to do? Set off a shoe bomb?”
Clarkson told CBS News that she was “shocked” by their treatment, explaining, “I’ve traveled with her before, I’ve been in a wheelchair myself unable to walk through the machines and I’ve never had that kind of a pat-down ever. I was just shocked. I couldn’t believe they were doing this to my 96-year-old mother.”
“It was just shock, and frustration because they would not talk to me. I felt helpless,” she added.
The airport received their fair share of comments about the incident, so they took to Facebook to explain: “Many of you have reached out to us to express concern over a video of a security screening taking place at Dulles International Airport. Security screening at our checkpoints is directed and conducted by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). We have shared customer comments with the TSA for their immediate review and appropriate action.”
Additionally, TSA sent a statement to CBS News that explained: “TSA is committed to ensuring the security of travelers, while treating all passengers with dignity and respect. In this instance, the TSA officer provided advisements during the pat-down and was extremely polite.”
The statement noted: “The passenger was very cooperative and gave no indication that she was agitated or in discomfort. She received a pat-down and was cleared for her flight.”
Clarkson said that her mother was “scared” by the incident, explaining, “She didn’t know what to say. She does not want to fly again ever. She didn’t know what they were looking for. She was scared. She was just following directions. She said she didn’t know what to do.”
Among the many comments left on the Daily Mail’s coverage of the story was one commenter who works in airport security who offered this perspective: “As an airport security officer myself, the TSA officer did her job perfectly and thoroughly. There was no ‘man handling’ or force being used. She conducted the body search and swabbed the wheelchair in the correct manner. As security officers, we have the responsibilty to protect every one in the airport…there is nothing wrong with double searching a passenger or rescreening a bag, regardless of their age! I’ve seen the most bizarre and prohibited things trying to be brought through by people you wouldn’t expect it from! But if in doubt then we have the right to research! It’s better to be safe than sorry!”