DENVER — A Colorado mom says TSA needs to change its screening protocol for special needs children. Stephanie Griggs says her 13-year old daughter, Bella has been diagnosed with Fanconi anemia, a chromosome breakage disorder that can lead to bone marrow problems and early cancer.
“Doctors have told her to avoid any unnecessary radiation,” Griggs said. On Tuesday, the Griggs family began a cross-country journey to Maine, to attend Camp Sunshine, a retreat for kids with life-threatening diseases, and their families.
As they were going through security at Denver International Airport, Bella had to face something she d never experienced before.
I always let TSA know that we re traveling with medical liquids, Griggs said. I also request that Bella be allowed to go through metal detectors, as opposed to a full-body scanner. I reiterated that [the scanner] could be detrimental to her health. Griggs said the agent told her that if the daughter opted out of the full-body scan, she would be patted down. Griggs told Denver7 that she and her husband have always taught their kids that no one should touch them on private parts of their body, except a physician.
She asked to talk to a supervisor and said she was told that her daughter had three choices. She could go through the metal detector and be patted down, go through the full body scan or leave the airport and not go to camp.
I was understandably upset, she said. Bella was very, very upset. Griggs said they ve traveled through DIA and other airports multiple times and never ran into this issue.
It s unfair, she said. Bella s got enough crap in her life to deal with; she doesn t need this. To avoid the pat down from a stranger, Bella opted to go through the full-body scan.
It just kind of felt scary to me, Bella said. So, I just decided to go through the full-body scanner.
During the scan, there was an alert, so Bella ended up being patted down anyway.
Every other time she has flown, she s been deemed safe, Griggs said. Nothing has changed. Griggs said nothing was found during the pat-down, which makes her wonder if the machines weren t calibrated appropriately. She said she also wonders if the security officer was on a power trip.
A TSA spokeswoman provided Denver7 the following statement:
We regret that the passenger and her family found their screening experience stressful. After an internal review, we determined that screening protocols were followed. TSA s screening procedures have been developed to ensure that passengers can be screened regardless of their disability or medical condition. In this case, the passenger elected to go through Advanced Imaging Technology when presented with her options, and required further screening to clear an alarm.
Last March, TSA issued this statement about pat-downs, which applies to passengers 12 and over:
Effective March 2, 2017, TSA consolidated previous pat-down procedures into one standardized pat-down procedure at airport security checkpoints and at other locations within the airport. This standardized pat-down procedure continues to utilize enhanced security measures implemented several months ago, and does not involve any different areas of the body than were screened in the previous standard pat-down procedure. Individuals transiting the TSA security checkpoint who have opted out of technology screening, or have alarmed certain technology or a canine team, will undergo a pat-down. Passengers may also receive a pat-down as part of our unpredictable security measures. TSA continues to adjust and refine our systems and procedures to meet the evolving threat and to achieve the highest levels of transportation security.
“Flip-Flow” doors at Kalamazoo/Battle Creek International Airport
KALAMAZOO, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL3) – The Kalamazoo County Sheriff s Office says it’s paying close attention to what happened in the attack on an officer at Flint s Bishop International Airport. Undersheriff Paul Matyas said deputies will be ready to make any necessary changes to the security at Kalamazoo/Battle Creek International Airport.
“You’ve got to have security at a location like this. These are soft targets, said Matyas. “Since the 9-11 incident, many years ago, the Kalamazoo County Sheriff’s Department has had a detail at the Kalamazoo airport.”
County deputies patrol the grounds and tower, as well as making normal rounds through the inside of the airport. For Matyas, it s important to stay visible.
“We put a patrol car right in front, said Matyas. There’s no doubt there are sheriff’s deputies at the airport on duty.”
“They’re always doing the perimeter checks, said Anton Bjorkman, Airport Assistant Director of Operations and Maintenance. They always have a bit of presence here on sight.”
The airport also has technology that can help prevent an emergency, or contain one, if something were to happen. They re called Flip-Flow doors, and they control movement through the building.
“The only comments ever we get on it are, ‘I’ve never seen anything like that before,’ said Bjorkman. Which, you know, is kind of a cool thing.”
The doors are only in one spot: the path that leads from the boarding zone back to the public entrance. The doors open on the boarding side, allow one person to enter, then close. From there the door on the opposite side will open and allow people to exit.
“They’re unique to our airport. Not a lot of other airports have these type of doors, said Bjorkman. “It gives you audio direction while you’re going through them. Please stop. Please wait here. Door open. Things like that.”
The purpose of the doors is to control the flow of traffic, but they also prevent a threat from getting to the boarding area without pushing through multiple TSA guards.
“It has several layers of protection against letting people back into the sterile area, said Bjorkman. “We’re very confident in the set up that we have for our Flip-Flow doors.”
For passengers trying to meet their loved ones, the doors may slow you down, like they did for Jason Bolhuis who visits his family in Michigan every year.
“From someone who travels to many different airports, it was a nuisance, said Bolhuis. But, he understands why they are in place. “I can completely understand the security measure, and why that would be something they’d want to install, said Bolhuis. “I think having a secure airport is always important. You don’t want people getting into your airport with weapons or anything from there. And, you don’t want to be attacked. For the staff, slower is fine, especially if that means a safer airport.
“We don’t take security any less seriously than the larger airports, or even the smaller airports, said Bjorkman. “It is a topic in every one of our meetings. It is something that is discussed daily here. It’s never something we take lightly.”
Hancock Airport (CNY Central File Photo
With several recent terrorist attacks around the world, some summer travelers are thinking of safety when using the nation’s airports.
“There’s just something in the back of my head that says be careful, but that’s not going to stop me,” said Constance Darling, who flew into Hancock Airport in Syracuse from Lake Tahoe. “I’m coming here to see family and that’s not going to stop me.”
Just in Syracuse, Transportation Security Administration officials expects more than 3,600 people a day to move through the security check points. Officials say they base security on known U.S. intelligence and every security hurdle for travelers is necessary. They stress that keeping the security process moving smoothly along at airports is a big help, so passengers should be mindful of what items are in their baggage and be aware of the rules of what can and can’t be taken on a plane.
“Please do your part. Be aware of threat that we’re living in. Be aware that the bad guys are out there trying do us harm and take it very, very seriously. And when you pack, please be knowledgeable in what you pack.”