Even those who never fly may get fondled by a TSA screener just by visiting an airport. TSA is now planning to conduct random searches of people who take shuttle buses or trains into airports in order to meet someone arriving by plane even if they never near a checkpoint or boarding area.
There have been random searches of bags by TSA VIPR teams at bus and rail stations as well as sporting and political event in the past but those were confined to pre-2010 style bag searches and did not involve the groping searches that TSA is so fond of performing at airports.
Well not anymore. TSA may now assault adults and children at curbside whether ticketed or not despite the fact that the areas outside of security are already patrolled by local law enforcement. There is some opposition to this in Congress and TSA could run afoul of State and local laws by usurping local law enforcement responsibilities and put the agency and screeners at risk of prosecution or civil action.
Time will tell how people react when they are unexpectedly searched while entering an airport to pick up Grandma.
TSA May Make Special-Tactics Teams Fixture at Airports
Bloomberg – By Jeff Plungis – December 17, 2013
The U.S. Transportation Security Administration may permanently shift teams of specially trained officers that do random searches at train and bus stations to airports.
The biggest short-term change to agency practices after the Nov. 1 Los Angeles International Airport shooting has been moving some of its 37 Visible Intermodal Prevention and Response, or VIPR, teams around the U.S. from surface-transportation settings to airports, Administrator John Pistole said at a conference in Washington today.
“I immediately moved some to airports, to have a greater visible deterrent there,” Pistole said. “We’re looking at the possibility of continuing that.”
TSA officials said after the shooting, in which for the first time an agency employee was killed while on duty, that areas in the front part of airports like ticketing counters were vulnerable to attack. The agency doesn’t provide security between the curb, where passengers are dropped off, and the security checkpoint.
The TSA held a meeting with 30 aviation-industry stakeholders the week after the Los Angeles attack and will hold another meeting in January, Pistole said. The agency is trying to do whatever it can to augment the “deterrent effect of law enforcement officers,” he said.
The VIPR teams, which conduct random searches at subway stations, ports, bus terminals and sporting events, have been criticized by some members of Congress as being too far removed from the TSA’s mission of securing U.S. airports.