Tuesday, December 7, 2010
Carmel on the Case: TSA Felons
The Transportation Security Administration T.S.A. has generated lots of controversy this holiday season with scanners and pat downs, but did you know some TSA agents doing those checks could be convicted felons? Investigative reporter Carmel Cafiero is On the Case.
WSVN -- We rely on TSA security officers to keep terrorists from getting on our planes, but when screening was stepped up recently to include full body X-rays or very physical pat downs there was a backlash.
In San Diego a passenger recorded his conversation with a TSA agent.
TSA Agent: "And if you'd like a private screening, we can also make that available for you also."
Passenger: "We can do that out here, but if you touch my junk I am going to have you arrested."
In Salt Lake City, a father took off his young son's shirt after the child had been singled out.
Passenger: "They harassing a kid?"
Passenger: "Yup. nice it's ridiculous."
And there's was more than aggravation for some, there was humiliation. A cancer survivor was patted down in Detroit so rough it ruptured his urine bag.
Passenger: "And I had urine dribbling into my underwear, down my leg, on my shorts."
And now there are questions about the backgrounds of those doing the screening. It turns out the TSA will hire criminals as long as their convictions happened more than 10 years ago. That means people with criminal records could be checking you the next time you fly.
Chip LaMarca: "Well the numbers I'm hearing are as much as seven percent of the people that are manning the stations could be formerly convicted felons."
Carmel Cafiero: "What do you think of that?"
Chip La Marca: "I think it's horrific."
Broward County Commissioner Chip Lamarca is alarmed.
Chip LaMarca: "I guess my biggest issue is that we have people doing the patdowns that could be convicted, like I said, of a sexual felony 10 years prior to being hired by the TSA, the federal government."
The TSA's hiring requirements are no big secret they're on the internet for anyone to read.
Under disqualifying criminal offenses the site reads: Conviction within the last 10 years of any one or more of the crimes listed below will disqualify you for employment with TSA.
The site then lists more than two dozen crimes including aircraft piracy espionage sedition kidnapping murder and rape or aggravated sexual abuse.
Chip LaMarca: "They're getting very close to people and they are doing a very invasive patdown."
When 7 News contacted the TS, it assured us no sex offenders are doing the patdowns.
In an e-mail, the TSA says "It is TSA's policy not to hire sexual offenders as security officers because such offenses are incompatible with the duties and responsibilities of our officers." But we did not get answers to our questions about just how many convicted criminals have been hired by the TSA.
Chip LaMarca: "I think once this information is out there, all the airports will start looking at it."
Carmel Cafiero: "Look for LaMarca to push the issue to have the hiring practices changed. In the meantime, he points out Broward has 11 percent unemployment so why not hire people from that pool of workers who have no criminal histories?"
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