Why Did TSA Pat Down Kids, Adults Getting Off Train?

Posted Feb 28th 2011 05:00 PMUpdated Mar 1st 2011 09:50 AM


tsa pat-down kids savannah


A Florida firefighter says he couldn't believe it when Transportation Security Administration (TSA) agents gave "intrusive" pat-downs to passengers including kids getting off an Amtrak train in Savannah, Georgia earlier this month.

Lt. Brian Gamble, 38, of Leesburg, Florida, posted video of the incident on YouTube. And the TSA is now apologizing.

Gamble, who also works part-time as a travel agent, tells AOL Travel News he was bringing a small group that included other firefighters and policemen to Savannah for a Valentine's Day getaway. They were among 30 or 40 people getting off the train when he says TSA officers ordered everyone into the terminal.

"They sent us all into a roped-off holding area and said 'Y'all are going to be searched,'" Gamble says. "We were getting off the train. This didn't make sense."

Once in the area, the group was guarded while TSA officers began doing what Gamble says were "intrusive" pat-downs.

When he saw a family with young kids in the lineup, he took out his camera and started filming. He does not know the identity of the family.

"They were in front of us. They (the TSA agents) started lifting their shirts and wanding them."

Gamble's wife, Traci, 38, and a female friend were also searched and he says female TSA officers made them lift their shirts up to their midriffs and patted their bras.

"One guy went through (Traci's) hand luggage and smelled her perfume and made comments about it smelling good. It was just not professional. It was just weird," Gamble says.

"My wife was livid," he adds. "We thought this is silly, we are being harassed by the TSA."

Nearing the front of the line for his own search, Gamble complained to a TSA supervisor but says he was told to calm down. "They wouldn't give us an explanation for the search."

Meanwhile, the passengers' luggage was sitting on the train platform. So the fireman waved over an officer from the Georgia State Patrol to point that out.

"I explained what was going on, he left for a few minutes and then came back and took six of us in our group and said 'Sorry about that, go get your luggage, you're good to go.'"

Gamble says he would have had no problem with such a search happening on a train, "But getting off the train, that was kind of backwards."

With Gamble's video gaining steam on the Internet, the TSA took to its blog over the weekend to explain what happened.

The TSA's Blogger Bob writes that what the Savannah train passengers encountered is known as a VIPR operation, a randomized search "where anyone entering an impacted area has to be screened."

Such searches – involving federal, state and local law enforcement – were stepped up in 2004 in the wake of the Madrid train bombings in which 181 people were killed, and happen around the country on a regular basis, the TSA says.

"In this case, the Amtrak station was the subject of the VIPR operation so people entering the station were being screened for items on the Amtrak prohibited items list as seen in the video," Blogger Bob writes.

But Bob adds the TSA learned the VIPR operation in Savannah "should have ended by the time these folks were coming through the station since no more trains were leaving the station. We apologize for any inconvenience we may have caused for those passengers."

The TSA says the passengers did not have to go into the terminal to leave the station. But Gamble says the TSA agents didn't give them a choice.

"Their apology is kind of lame," he says. "I thought this whole thing was very unprofessional and very shady."

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So when a tewwowist finally sticks a bomb up theirs I imagine you'll be first in line to let the TSA stick their gloved finger up yours.

January 27 2015 at 12:59 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

So when a tewwowist finally sticks a bomb up theirs I imagine you'll be first in line to let the TSA stick their gloved finger up yours.

January 27 2015 at 12:59 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Maj Variola

Why do americans obey anyone in uniform? TSA have ZERO authority.

Touch me, your finger is mine.

October 28 2011 at 5:05 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Just start whipping it out, and pissing on them. I'm serious.

If a hundred people did this, they'd be unable to manage.

October 28 2011 at 4:25 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Piggot's comment

ROFL, you know whats better than that, at a Phoenix Airport they searched a 90 year old females diaper because and i quote "it was warm and firm". We that shows two things, 1. the TSA are brain dead buffoons since well its full of crap how else could crap be described as...."steamy" 2. isn't it odd they always say sorry after the fact and never ever try and preventive measures to not let it happen again.

December 28 2012 at 2:39 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Here, I was planning on going to California on the Amtrak and now, the TSA is also at the train stations? Just what we need.

July 09 2011 at 12:18 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Looks like the TSA is the new workplace for convicted child molesters; now they can fondle kids in public without having to worry about going to jail again.


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April 09 2011 at 10:35 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

The guy who tried to destroy the plane back last Christmas, the underwear person, had help getting on the plane in South Africa, he had no passport, or ticket yet someone dressed very well helped him get onboard as reported by people waiting at the gate. What about that stuff?

March 11 2011 at 8:59 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I get gropped often at the airports. I always refuse the body scan for health reasons. The FDA and CDRH issued alerts and warnings that the public should be aware that we are all be exposed to much more radiation over time than we should allow. The issue is not a one time scan but the effects of continuous exposure. The government employees and aurothorities are human and read what they want to read and make conculsusions. None of the TSA's are experts. They are mainly under paid average people with a government job. I do not want to be exposed on a regular basis to machines that may or may not be calibrated correctly. The Veterans Admin over exposed people for years. Who ran it? the Federal Government.

The illegal search is still safer to unknown long term effects of exposure to regular flyers.

Today an Atlanta TSA gave me a hard time for opting out. He was rude. I told him I was going to watch my stuff on the belt, he didn't like it and wanted me to watch him. I said no. He was pissy like a little kid. He gave me the standard speech and interuptted me multiple titimes. What a moron and thug. I told him he could grop me as much as he wanted. It's clear they are poorly trained on an important subject.

This is another case of hte government doing an important job using the lowest bidders.

March 07 2011 at 10:24 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply