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TSA Has a New Pat-Down Technique at Airports

Agency gives police a heads up, bracing for complaints
By Elizabeth Armstrong Moore,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 7, 2017 10:37 AM CST

(Newser) – The TSA has rolled out a new pat-down technique at airports, and it's apparently expecting people to be unhappy. Bloomberg reports that the agency has advised local and airport police about the change in case they get complaints about "abnormal" frisking. So what's different? That part is unclear, because the TSA isn't providing specifics other than saying it's more "comprehensive." But one change is that agents will use the front of their hands in a private screening area. One passenger who underwent the pat-down tells NBC News that he was warned in advance to expect a "more intense horizontal and vertical" search, and indeed, he reports that it was the "most intriguing, intense and invasive" pat-down he's had at the hands of TSA.

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The "enhanced" searches are a response to weaknesses found in airport security, reports the Los Angeles Times. The agency used to employ one of five techniques, but a 2015 undercover test by the Department of Homeland Security found them essentially ineffective, with "layers of security simply missing," in the words of the department's inspector general. Previously, agents would asssess the situation and determine which of the five pat-downs to use, but from now on, they'll use just the new, universal technique. Travelers who decline to walk through body scanners are or otherwise singled out can expect them. (Read more pat-downs stories.)

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