“You Respect This Badge Right Here”: TSA Agent Orders to Passenger Filming “Pat-Down” of His Father

n agent of the Transportation Security Administration reportedly summoned a law enforcement officer on a teenager 16 years of age who refused to obey his orders to stop filming his father experiencing a “pat-down” at the security checkpoint of New Orleans International Airport.

At the 1:23 mark in this video, you can hear the agitated agent bellow “You respect this badge right here!” as he points to his uniform:

The following text by Apple Lucas accompanies the video:

“After being denied the right to film the process of being patted down by a TSA supervisor at MSY even after I politely asked, I went back and had a talk with the supervisor that refused to let me film him. He then proceeded to call the police on me unlawfully even after I explained to him that it clearly states on the TSA website that you are allowed to film the TSA agents as long as you don’t film their monitors and are not interfering with their process, which I wasn’t. He was the one who exploded on me initially (before I began recording) just because I wanted to film him which is completely legal. Thanks for watching.”

The official Internet web site of the Transportation Security Administration states the following official policy pertaining to photography:

TSA does not prohibit the public, passengers or press from photographing, videotaping or filming at security checkpoints, as long as the screening process is not interfered with or slowed down. We do ask you to not film or take pictures of the monitors. While the TSA does not prohibit photographs at screening locations, local laws, state statutes, or local ordinances might.

Taking photographs may also prompt airport police or a TSA official to ask what your purpose is. It is recommended that you use the Talk To TSA program on tsa.gov to contact the Customer Support Manager at the airport to determine its specific policy. Or, if you are a member of the press, you should contact the TSA Office of Public Affairs.

“Officer, I need this gentleman gone”, said the agent in a thick Cajun accent despite the teenager repeatedly correctly citing that he was permitted to film the procedure. “I need him gone. I don’t care what he seen on the Internet; I need him gone.”

The agent in question is currently under investigation as a result of this incident, as he has been reassigned until the investigation by the Transportation Security Administration is complete, according to this article written by Kelly Taylor of KTVU-TV Fox 2 News in San Francisco.

This incident reminded me of the one in 2011 involving the “pat-down” of the daughter — then 14 years of age — of Andrea Abbott, who attempted to record the procedure on her mobile telephone. However, Jeffery Nolen — a Department of Public Safety Officer at Nashville International Airport — appeared to purposely use his body to block her line of sight to her daughter, which agitated Abbott and arguably precipitated the exacerbation of the incident. Screen shots of the video footage appeared to reveal that the daughter of Abbott was touched inappropriately by an agent of the Transportation Security Administration during the “pat-down” procedure.

Abbott was arrested for disorderly conduct after the incident and — after four hours of deliberation by jurors — was found guilty in October of 2012 and sentenced to 11 months and 29 days of probation.

One FlyerTalk member alleged that he was assaulted by a Transportation Security Administration agent last month for filming the security checkpoints inside Terminal 4 at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York where he was attempting to determine which security checkpoints were using the Backscatter advanced imaging technology machines; and then he was ultimately forced to delete the footage — part of which he had successfully recovered and made available for viewing.

Philip Mocek was arrested at Albuquerque International Sunport in New Mexico back in 2009 for not showing identification upon command. The member of FlyerTalk was cleared of all charges in January of 2011; and almost exactly two years later, United States District Judge James O. Browning dismissed Transportation Security Administration agents as defendants from a civil lawsuit filed by Phillip Mocek.

There have been countless children who have been subjected to the “pat-down” procedures implemented by agents of the Transportation Security Administration — including those of a girl six years of age and a boy eight months of age, by which people were outraged and appalled.

You may have noticed that you will never see me use the word officer when referring to Transportation Security Administration personnel in content posted here at The Gate. The main reason is that people who work for the Transportation Security Administration are not officers — let alone be permitted to bear arms while on duty — even though they are tasked by the federal government of the United States with ensuring that prohibited items do not pass through security checkpoints at airports; and that suspicious people are checked before being permitted access to the secure part of an airport.

The intention of legislation introduced by Marsha Blackburn and 24 other Republican members of the United States House of Representatives back in December of 2011 was to prevent Transportation Security Administration personnel from being referred to as officers unless they have successfully been fully trained on federal law enforcement or are otherwise eligible for benefits earned by those officially tasked with federal law enforcement. I, of course, agree.

Furthermore, I have repeatedly said in the past — such as in this article, for example — that a network of systems in the United States needs to be developed where a reasonable balance is struck between protecting the freedoms and liberties guaranteed to American citizens by the Constitution while ensuring effective safety and security without infringing upon those freedoms and liberties…

…and being subjected to what seem to be rants laced with a perverse hunger for power by a handful of employees of the federal government who have not been trained as law enforcement officers does not contribute to that balance, which is one of the reasons why permission to film procedures of agents of the Transportation Security Administration at airport security checkpoints is important and beneficial, in my opinion — and thankfully, that is recognized by the agency itself.

Source of screen shot is from a video — both courtesy of Apple Lucas.

  1. So you joined the sheep supporting those that purposely interfere with the TSA too?

    Such a shame.

    I had high respect for you.

    Signing Off for good

    – Jake

    1. I am not sure where you came up with that conclusion, Jake from MSP — especially if you read the article carefully.

      In the video embedded in this article, there is no evidence that the person filming the screening procedure was interfering with the agent of the Transportation Security Administration from doing his job, as he did not enter beyond the physical barrier where the “pat-down” was occurring; and therefore no inference that I support people who purposely interfere with the Transportation Security Administration.

      In fact, I do not support people who purposely interfere with the Transportation Security Administration; but I do support the right of someone to do something which is not prohibited and perfectly legal where applicable — in this case, filming a screening.

      Regardless, I am sorry that I disappointed you — but my opinions of the Transportation Security Administration have basically remained unchanged ever since the agency was created 14 years ago; and those opinions have been clearly imparted in articles which I have written in the past…

      1. I think the article was well written and shows great examples of just how far some TSA officials have taken their “power”.

        This Jake individual is obviously just a troll threatening to not read someone’s blog. As for “high respect”? I’m not a grammar or colloquial nazi, but isn’t it more appropriate to say “great respect”?

        Good day!


  2. Jake is clearly a government sponsored troll… Ignore forthwith.
    Bravo to Brian Cohen for his determination to inform the people who have not… yet…. been abused, molested or coerced by the cretins of TSA…

    The only retaliation that I can think of is to simply STOP flying out of US airports. The only language that any of these airlines (and they COULD have nipped the govt. TSA in the bud in the very beginning if they had more concern and appreciation for their customers who pay the money that keeps them flying, than their standing with the government) understand is the $$$…….
    Unfortunately, every Thanksgiving etc. I hear on cable news channels that there are “millions and millions of warm bodies flying somewhere”. I didn’t know that there were that many “grand-ma’s houses” in the entire country.
    Boycott… it won’t take long for a shift to happen!… The trucking industry proved that way back in 1973!

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