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Security Frisking Done By Same Sex

March 14, 2002

ARLINGTON, Va. (AP) _ Screeners at airport checkpoints will not frisk passengers of the opposite sex, the head of the Transportation Security Administration said Wednesday.

John Magaw, who heads the security agency, said male security agents would pat down males and females would do the same for females.

``You will not have a male frisking a female,″ Magaw said.

In addition, the security agency is setting standards for when to frisk at airport checkpoints, Magaw said.

Said Transportation Secretary Norman Y. Mineta: ``We want every passenger to be treated with respect.″

The Association of Flight Attendants said hundreds of its members reported being touched inappropriately by screeners of the opposite sex.

Union spokeswoman Dawn Deeks said the complaints ended when the Transportation Security Administration took over the responsibility for airline security on Feb. 17.

``It had been a big problem,′ Deeks said. ``We were receiving lots of reports of inappropriate screenings. It does seem to be getting better.″

The problem had gotten so bad that the home page on the union’s Web site included a special section on what do to if singled out for frisking, including asking to see airport police.

Magaw said there should be screeners of both sexes available at each checkpoint.

``If we don’t have a mixed work force, we’re not recruiting properly,″ Magaw said.

Magaw said the agency will have a hotline and an ombudsman to hear complaints about how passengers and flight crews are treated.

The agency also unveiled its logo Wednesday: A black and white eagle preparing to soar over nine stars and 11 stripes of a waiving American flag. The number of stars and stripes is to commemorate 9/11, the date of the terrorist attacks that led Congress to create the Transportation Security Administration.

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On the Net:

Transportation Security Administration: http://www.tsa.dot.gov

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