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“We Were Treated Like Dogs”: Mom Questions TSA Pat-Down of Neurologically Impaired Teen

The concerned parent took issue with a TSA worker’s alleged mistreatment of her teenage son during a secondary screening pat-down at DFW.

Along with her outrage, Jennifer Williamson is sharing cellphone video of her teenage son enduring what appears to be an exceptionally thorough pat-down at the hands of a TSA screener at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW). To make matters worse, Williamson says that her son suffers form a neurological condition known as sensory processing disorder (SPD) which made the experience all the more traumatic for him.

The short video taken on Sunday had already been viewed online nearly 6 million times by early Tuesday afternoon. Williamson’s story has reignited a debate about the recent TSA announcement that new procedures would require physical searches to become more “comprehensive.” According to one official, the new policy rolled out this month means that pat-downs “will be more thorough and may involve an officer making more intimate contact than before.”

Williamson told her followers that she explained her son’s medical condition to the TSA screeners, but rather than being accommodated, she says her family was detained for more than an hour because she asked for an alternative to screeners conducting an invasive physical search of her child. An injustice she says caused them to miss their scheduled flight.

“We were treated like dogs because I requested they attempt to screen him in other ways per TSA rules,” Williamson wrote in her post. “He has SPD and I didn’t want my child given a pat down like this. Let me make something else crystal clear. He set off NO alarms. He physically did not alarm at all during screening, he passed through the detector just fine. He is still several hours later saying ‘I don’t know what I did. What did I do?’ I am livid.”

While the teenager’s mother, by her own account, strongly objected to the screening process, it is clear in the video that Aaron Williamson cooperated fully as the TSA screener repeatedly inspected his person during the roughly two-minute long video. Likewise, the checkpoint worker can be heard respectfully explaining to the teen exactly what the physical inspection would entail.

A TSA spokesperson told NBC News that the screener acted appropriately after the teen’s laptop computer triggered an alarm. “TSA allows for a pat-down of a teenage passenger, and in this case, all approved procedures were followed to resolve an alarm of the passenger’s laptop,” the agency said in the statement.

[Photo: Shutterstock]

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3 Comments
O
overdahill March 31, 2017

maybe the rules are ok but maybe their needs to be a common sense application of the rules. it certainly appears that the pat down was very excessive. Very, I have seen pat downs during crisis times and even those were not so invasive. And to a child particularly with disabilities. The above response to the complaint was a statement and not a response. Seems like this is a major standards and training issue. On the other hand, I have in my millions of miles somehow always found their management of my experience to be exemplary, But, I was never an exception. Maybe that's where the issues lie.

S
STBCypriot March 29, 2017

Answer to JS: Because these are the stupid and illogical rules of TSA.

J
J S March 29, 2017

His laptop alarmed? So why are they searching his person? It is disturbing to watch a man putting his hands inside the pants of a young child. He is wearing nothing but a t-shirt and pair of shorts. There is almost nothing to search. If the laptop alarmed, I understand checking the laptop. If--after carefully checking the laptop--you find nothing in the laptop, then why does a false alarm of the laptop make it any more likely that this young boy has something dangerous or impermissible on his body?