Local News

Girl's pat-down at RDU upsets father

Posted January 6, 2016

— A California man is upset after his 10-year-old daughter received a pat-down from a Transportation Security Administration agent at Raleigh-Durham International Airport last week.

Kevin Payne posted a photo of his daughter, Vendela, being frisked on Dec. 30 to his Facebook page, and the video he took of the pat-down made its way to the Internet and has gained some attention nationally.

Payne says he felt like the TSA went overboard, noting they checked his daughter for two minutes after she left a juice container in her carry-on bag. A swab of the container falsely tested positive for explosives.

He said the pat-down was invasive and made his daughter and him very uncomfortable, as it seemed extreme for a child. He said there might be a training issue that TSA administrators need to examine.

TSA officials said in a statement that the RDU agents "followed approved procedures" in that the girl's father was present and the pat-down was conducted by a female agent.

"The remainder of the time was spent mitigating the concerns of the father and discussing screening procedures," the agency said.

The agency's website states that the TSA makes every effort to avoid pat-downs of children under 12, that they try other options first and that, when they do a pat-down on a child, it is modified.

The Paynes were flying to San Diego from RDU, and they were delayed for an hour by the extra security, which also involved removing their checked bags from the plane and searching them.

The TSA noted that the Paynes didn't miss their flight.


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  • Greg Klayton Jan 7, 2016
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    I will be critical of the TSA. This can't be the new norm. The TSA needs to strike a balance between protecting public safety and protecting public dignity. Seems like in so many organizations plain old common sense has been thrown out the window.

    What exactly does a small trace of explosives mean? Rubbing alcohol could be used as an explosive. If you use hand sanitizer does that contribute to these false positives? The TSA needs to provide explanations to the public and stop demeaning good citizens.

  • Nan Toppin Jan 7, 2016
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    I am not being critical of the TSA but I do wonder what the false positive rate for explosives is? I forgot to take off my necklace, which had a large pendant on it, when I connected in Charlotte in Nov and as a result they pulled me out and swabbed my hands. Then told me I tested positive for trace amounts of explosives. I was taken into the walled room and had the extensive search by a female TSA officer and had multiple people go through my carry on bag. They did not pull my checked bag off the plane. My experience lasted 25 minutes and I did not miss my flight...it was boarding when I got to the gate. I was very calm and in no way combative through the search b/c it's very clear you are not in a place to demand or try to negotiate anything...if that machine goes off..they are going to follow their procedures. I must admit by the time I got on the plane I was shaking and my biggest fear was if I somehow tested positive for explosives...what else could happen?

  • Hamilton Bean Jan 7, 2016
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    While there is obviously a need for security screening--that must be applied . However, it seems as if the TSA has not received an over abundance of common sense..

  • K Hope Capps Jan 7, 2016
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    Right! It makes you wonder what they're putting in that juice! He needs to contact Mott's if he wants to place blame!

    In this instance, TSA did the right thing. As others have said, it's very clear what you can and cannot have. If you forget an item, then you get extra scrutiny. The lesson here is that you need to be more careful with your carry-ons.

    A few years ago, my husband forgot to take off his keys and belt going through the scanner. He went through once, set off the beep and remembered he still had his keys. Then he went through again, set off the alarm again, then realized he never took off his belt. Of course, he got pulled out of line. This is a former military intelligence officer with top secret clearance! No one is immune.
    As we see on the nightly world news, terrorists are not above using children.

  • Raleigh Rose Jan 7, 2016
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    I get pulled for a pat down almost every time I fly and it's normally because I forgot something that sets the alarm. It's annoying but something I accept as a part of flying and part of my own forgetfulness. :) If I don't want to be patted down I am free to find other modes of transportation. I've also been detained by immigration and managed not to make a fuss. Those machines that take your pic and compare to your passport do NOT work well.

    The parents should have ensured their child didn't have anything that couldn't go through security. I'm sure this girl is more traumatized by having this video all over the news and internet than the actual pat down. My first thought was that they were looking for money. Sad if that is true and the father is using his 11 year old daughter to do so.

  • Kim Plucker Jan 7, 2016
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  • Patty MacRae Jan 7, 2016
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    One of the videos posted by the dad has inflammatory remarks posted throughout like 'assault' because of the length of time the pat down took. What I see is a TSA agent taking the time to tell the young lady what was going to happen next, to which the girl nodded on a number of occasions. I think that was very respectful- good work on the agent's part.

  • Marcy Lyn Jan 7, 2016
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    Not public enemy,... did you know it was a Juice box prior to the search ?

  • Real Libertine Jan 7, 2016
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    The tone of 'agreement' in these comments to what occurred at RDU is actually just a sad commentary on human conditioning. You've all been subjugated to the point that it's really okay with you that a child is patted down like a public enemy for the heinous crime of being in possession of a juice box. We are doomed as a free society because too many of you think and act like serfs and slaves.

  • Robert J. Howarth Sr Jan 7, 2016
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    Daddy needs to put his big boy pants on. A lot of Whaa Whaa for nothing