Report: Only 1-In-6 TSA Pat-Downs Done Properly At Newark Airport

Pat-downs at airport security checkpoints are meant as alternatives to the controversial full-body scans that are becoming the standard at major air hubs. But a recently uncovered report casts some doubt on whether or not Transportation Security Administration screeners actually know or care about what they are doing when it comes to patting a traveler down.

The Newark Star-Ledger reports that it has uncovered internal TSA PACE (“Presence, Advisements, Communication and Execution”) review documents for screeners at Newark Liberty International Airport. Along with arguably picky critiques — gum-chewing, non-uniform shoes, lots of chit-chatting and standing around — there are a couple of notes that actually might give travelers and taxpayers reasons to be unhappy.

Among ratings for 47 individual tasks, undercover TSA observers noted that Newark screeners properly executed standard pat-downs in only 16.7% of cases. Furthermore, screeners took appropriate action on prohibited items only 25% of the time.

The Star-Ledger points out that results of PACE evaluations don’t carry disciplinary actions and that screeners are given verbal corrections by supervisors.

The TSA cautions that PACE reports are like spot-checks and should be “considered a ‘snapshot in time,’ meaning that if the evaluators came back the very next day, or even an hour later, the experience of the evaluator could change.”

A rep for the union representing 44,000 TSA screeners around the country tried to downplay the Star-Ledger’s findings.

“Every time the TSOs are reported on negatively in the paper, it brings down morale,” said the rep. “These are things that — I don’t want to come off as trivializing management making sure that officers are maintaining professionalism — but I’ve never heard of a passenger complaining, ‘Those should be all black shoes, and not black Nikes.’”

Perhaps not, but passengers who opt for touchy-feely pat-downs would probably at least like to know that they are being groped in the proper manner.