TSA Admits ‘Bad Judgment’ After Disabled Man Subjected to Airport Pat-Down
A Detroit father said agents with the Transportation Security Administration singled out his special-needs son for a pat-down while the family was headed to Disney World, MyFoxDetroit.com reported, an incident that the TSA admitted was a “case of bad judgment.”
David Mandy said agents at Detroit Metro Airport took his son Drew, 29, and asked him about the padding underneath his pants, which turned out to be adult diapers. Drew, who is severely mentally disabled, had trouble understanding the agents’ orders because his family said he has the mental capacity of a 2-year-old.
When the father tried to intervene and explain Drew’s disability, he said the two agents said, “Please, sir, we know what we’re doing.”
The agents confiscated a six-inch plastic hammer, something Drew had carried with him for 20 years for comfort. Agents called it a security threat, his father said, adding that they tapped the wall with it and said, “See, it’s hard. It could be used as a weapon.”
The family was told they’d have to ship the hammer if they wanted to keep it, David Mandy said.
“I understand they’re trying to keep people safe,” Mandy said told MyFoxDetroit.com. “But come on, does he look like a terrorist?”
Dr. Mandy claimed they asked Drew to place his feet on the yellow shoe line, something he didn’t understand. They proceeded to pat his pants down, questioning the padding which was his adult diapers. When the agents asked Drew to take his hand and rub the front and back of his pants so they could swab it for explosives, his dad stepped in and tried to explain that Drew was mentally challenged.”They said, ‘Please, sir, we know what we’re doing,'” Mandy said.
The TSA agents saw Drew holding a six-inch plastic hammer.
“My son carries his ball and his hammer for security. He goes everywhere with (them),” said Mandy.
The TSA it seems saw the toy as a weapon.
“He took the hammer and he tapped the wall. ‘See, it’s hard. It could be used as a weapon,'” Mandy explained. “So, Drew’s also holding the ball, and I said, ‘Well, how about the ball?’ He (said), ‘Oh, he can keep that.”
Dr. Mandy was told he would need to have the toy shipped if he wanted to keep it, a process which caused them to almost miss their plane, so he pitched it.
“It just killed me to have to throw it away because he’s been carrying this like for 20 years,” Mandy said.
Disgusted, he wrote TSA a letter. A response wasn’t far behind.
“Very polite. Very apologetic. He was embarrassed. He (said) we have to review how we deal with special needs individuals. Obviously, he (said), we’re doing a terrible job,” Mandy told us. “It made me feel that there is still hope, that there is still justice and that there’s still somebody who listens to people’s problems (in) the federal government.
That’s because federal security told him there are 800 TSA agents at Metro Airport and they are all going to be retrained based on Drew’s case.
We also spoke to a federal security director who said this incident is still under investigation, but as far as they can tell right now, better judgment was needed.
The TSA took away one toy hammer, but they were still able to take another toy hammer on board the airplane. How did that happen?