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TSA agents were seriously out of line in patdown of 4-year-old

April 26, 2012 - Andrea Johnson
Did you hear about the 4-year-old Missoula, Montana girl who became hysterical after TSA agents forced her to endure a physical patdown at a Wichita, Kansas airport?

Isabella Brademeyer had just gone through security with her family without incident when she ran back to hug her grandmother, Lori Croft, of Fountain Valley, Calif., who had tripped an alarm and was waiting for additional screening. The TSA agents then insisted on patting down the little girl, despite her protests.

"She started to cry, saying 'No I don't want to,' and when we tried talking to her she ran," Croft told the Associated Press. "They yelled, 'We are going to shut down the airport if you don't grab her.'"

The AP reports that Croft said her daughter tried to get TSA agents to use a wand on the 4-year-old or allow her to walk through the metal detector again. They refused and wanted to screen the little girl, who was by this time hysterical, alone in a separate room.

"She was kicking and screaming and fighting and in hysterics," Croft told the AP. "At that point my daughter ran up to her against TSA's orders because she said, 'My daughter is terrified, I can't leave her.'"

The AP reports that the entire incident lasted for about 10 minutes. Eventually a manager came in and allowed agents to pat the girl down while she was screaming, but being held by her mother. The family was then allowed to go on, but a TSA agent followed them.

Isabella's mother, Michelle Brademeyer, wrote about the incident on Facebook and accused the TSA agents of treating her daughter like a terrorist. The family understands the need to take security seriously, but their main objection was what they see as the TSA's lack of concern or consideration that they were dealing with a small child. A small child from Montana, running back to hug her grandma, seems like a pretty low risk as a terrorist.

The TSA released a statement Tuesday saying their agents followed proper procedure and the child was given a "modified pat-down." I doubt the little girl, who had just learned about stranger danger, appreciated the difference between a "modified patdown" and an intrusive one, particularly when the strange man was demanding she be held down and touched against her will. Isabella's grandmother said, not surprisingly, that her granddaughter now has nightmares and talks about kidnappers.

I know that 9/11 is seared in all of our brains and the need for security is very real, but the actions of the TSA agents here seem distinctly lacking in common sense. I have not flown since shortly before 9/11 and stories like this make me seriously doubt that I will ever feel like boarding an airplane again. They make me worry about the world my nephews are growing up in. For them, unfortunately, this type of thing at airports will seem normal, but flying on an airplane should not have to be such an ordeal. The world has gone mad.


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