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How to Fight Back Against Pat-Downs by Airport Security Screeners
February 1, 2006
by Matthew Reed
Lance Corporal, Unites States Marine Corps
0351/ Training NCO 1st Marine Regiment

You must use 911 and *677 to call the police first and get them on your side. Make sure that you get to the airport with plenty of time to spare. Have the airline you are flying with print up a Gate Pass for a friend or a significant other so that they may accompany you through the security gate. This way you will have a witness to the crime. If you cannot be accompanied by anyone, do not worry; this tactic will still work. Remain calm and stay silent. Don't get belligerent or violent.

The second the security screener goes over your breasts or genital area with their hands after wanding you, pull out your cell phone and dial 911. In a loud but clear tone of voice tell the 911 operators that you are being sexually assaulted at the airport. If the screeners have name badges on, give the 911 operator their names. However, if you cannot do this, physical descriptions will do just fine for a 911 call. The legal definitions of sexual harassment and sexual assault nationwide are generally somewhat broad. Sexually oriented intimidation and uninvited touching of the breasts or genital areas is typically classified as sexual assault.

After the 911 call is completed, dial *677. This number will automatically connect you to the State Police dispatcher. Tell the State Police everything you told the 911 operator, without telling them you also called 911.

The fact that the T.S.A. screeners are federal employees will not protect them. Screeners have been arrested by local police in Denver, Atlanta, Honolulu and Los Angeles for theft of passenger belongings. If they can be arrested for steeling, they can be arrested for sexual assault.

Having a significant other tell the arriving police officers that the screeners sexually assaulted you will do plenty to make sure that the screener/screeners that were patting you down are arrested and spend a night or two in jail.

If the local police don't arrest the screeners, the State Police are still there at your side. Go along with whoever ends up making the arrest and tell the police officers that you would like to file sexual assault charges against the screener/screeners. If you file first, this puts your T.S.A. tormentors on the defensive, now having to prove their innocence.

The accused will be the subject of an investigation in which time they will be subject to a thorough background check (the T.S.A. in years past did not do any real initial background checks for its screeners, so who knows what a police investigation will turn up), solitary interrogation and a night or two in jail.

Even if the screeners are later turned loose they may have to pay a fine once they are released in order to pay the city back for housing them in jail. There is an old cop saying about this; "you might beat the rap, but you won't beat the ride downtown."

Get restraining orders filed against the screeners while you're at the police station. This way, they will never be able to personally harass you again without violating the restraining order.

If you don't want to chance missing your flight, or are uncomfortable with the 911 *677 tactic, then file a complaint against the T.S.A. screeners that patted you down so you can get their names and badge numbers without arousing suspicion. Just politely file the complaint and go back to the police department's sexual assault detail later on to file the sexual assault charges.

The statute of limitations for sex crimes is seven years. So, if you or someone you know were groped by T.S.A. screeners under the original pat-down policy from September to December 2004, you can still go back and file sexual assault charges. If you filed a complaint, this will aid you when you go back to file charges.

Whether you filed a complaint or not, if you could recognize the screeners who sexually abused you, then tell the police that. Have them take you back to the airport to search for the screener so an arrest can be made.

When women were forced into the "private" screening areas like sheep into a slaughtering pen, there were usually other screeners and passengers there to watch it take place. Therefore, the detectives can subpoena other screeners and bystanders to testify about the incident. However, your 911 call can still get the screeners jailed. If your child was molested, then contact the police department's child exploitation unit.

There is still time to properly retaliate if you want to reclaim some of your lost rights and dignity.

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