Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Local police being forced to arrest people by TSA

Previous news from the John Tyner incident said that if you left an airport without TSA permission, you would be threatened with a civil suit and an $11,000 fine. Now it has gone one notch up.

This U.S. citizen eventually got through customs and back into the U.S. without undergoing either a scan or an invasive pat-down, but he was repeatedly told that the TSA could order local police to arrest him. (Link HT: Josh Trevino) By continued, polite questioning, he induced the TSA to back down and not actually order the police to arrest him, but apparently they could have done so.

woman was told by the local police that the TSA had it in for her and could order them to arrest her if she did not "play along." She missed her flight because she had breast milk with her.

So what are the local police arresting you for? What crime? And how does the TSA have the authority to order them to do so? And can state and local governments possibly fight this regime by passing laws ordering local police not to make arrests on the orders of the TSA?


Mike T said...

What we need is a strong state government like Virginia to move against TSA. I don't know about other states, but our constitution lets the state government alter and abolish municipal governments at will. So we could easily pass a bill that not only outlaws this cooperation, but empowers our sheriffs to arrest local cops who work with TSA.

William Luse said...

I'd sure like answers to all those questions.

You should leave comments open at W4, imo.

Lydia McGrew said...

Go for it, Mike T. I hope Virginia does exactly that.

Bill, I know, I know. But sometimes, I just groan within myself at the thought. You're my conscience.

888 said...

have you taken a look at

They have a story about an agent discovering 6.5 kilos of coke, and then conclude: “This proves how important each member of our workforce can be in identifying would-be threats to transportation security.”

The only stats they provide are for 2006: it appears that 99.9% to 99.99% of bags contain no credible threat to passenger safety. If we went by passengers, the threat is even lower.
[ ]

The previous procedures appear to have been way over the top, and now it gets more invasive and pervasive. At what point do we consider this as evidence of a paranoid approach to safety?

Kamilla said...


Gee, now I'm going to sleep really, really well at night. I kicked up a fuss in Chicago's Midway airport Sunday nigh because the TSA pulled me aside for a (routine sort of) pat down.


Because, I was told, I was wearing a skirt!


Beth Impson said...

No telling what you might be hiding under that odd, alien clothing, Kamilla!

Not looking forward to flying to see my mom next summer, but it's the only way I can go and stay for any length of time.

There are some very good articles on this subject at NRO if you haven't seen them yet. Andy McCarthy's is especially good.

al said...

It's in the law (49 U.S.C. 44903). Los Angeles had a separate LAX police force until it became part of LAPD. There is almost always a Sheriff's deputy at our small local airport. I assume, using local agencies eliminates the need for separate processing facilities and even more Feds.

"...The regulations shall authorize the operator to use the services of qualified State, local, and private law enforcement personnel..."

This is an interesting part of the enforcement section.

"(k) Limitation on Liability for Acts To Thwart Criminal Violence or Aircraft Piracy.— An individual shall not be liable for damages in any action brought in a Federal or State court arising out of the acts of the individual in attempting to thwart an act of criminal violence or piracy on an aircraft if that individual reasonably believed that such an act of criminal violence or piracy was occurring or was about to occur."

Lydia McGrew said...

The police under normal circumstances have independence and can decide if a crime is really being committed and whether or not to arrest. The problem with this is not with the police helping the TSA where someone is really committing a crime but with their being treated as TSA robots who can be ordered to arrest a perfectly innocent person who merely does not wish to be groped or even who asks too many questions. The breast-feeding mother was in danger of being arrested because she had breast milk and was getting impatient for her flight. The TSA made her re-package the breast milk because they made up a rule on the spot that the containers were "too full." She submitted to a search.

So the TSA is being put in charge of the police in a completely invidious way--the police have to arrest anyone they tell them to arrest. This is enormously problematic and must be stopped.

al said...

"but with their being treated as TSA robots who can be ordered to arrest a perfectly innocent person who merely does not wish to be groped or even who asks too many questions."

Your first example would seem to contradict this as the two cops seemed to have exercised quite a bit of discretion and common sense. The incident demonstrates that the several agencies have the discretion necessary to do their jobs.

I doubt that many sworn local officers are behaving "robotically" as being a sheriff's deputy or a policeman is typically a higher status and usually better paid position than a TSA scanner or supervisor. A rookie may be intimidated but an experienced officer is likely to be adverse to some TSA wienie forcing a lot of unnecessary paper work on him.

Stepping back a bit, i believe we have a slippery slope here and, much as I love to mock the "first they came for..." schtick, it may apply here.

Perhaps the time to call the government on this "security theatre" was when the inconvenience for us was minor (lines, nail clippers, etc.) and the pain was placed on others who dwelt far away (Afghans, Iraqis). Better late than never, i suppose.

Oh, and let's get rid of Homeland Security, I'm sure ot sounds better in the original German but I gate the name and it is way too big to ever be efficient and effective.+...

Lydia McGrew said...

Al, I disagree with your interpretation of the story. In both stories, it was stated _quite clearly_ that the police would have to arrest the traveler if told to do so by the TSA. All that the police were able to do was exercise a kind of passive aggression. In the one case, they refused to arrest on their own account and made it clear that the TSA would have to make the call. The TSA backed down but didn't have to do so. (This was all explicit.) In the other case, they _expressly told_ the woman that she needed to play along with the TSA (though they obviously didn't like it) or they could be told to arrest her.

I certainly agree that this should have all been stopped earlier. There are many problems that I see with the court precedents you have cited, probably the biggest of them being the loss of a consent criterion for warrantless search without probable cause. That certainly set the stage for the mess we are in now, though it still looks to me like the courts have left themselves the room to rule that some type of search is going too far and is therefore unconstitutional, and in that case there should be a lawsuit and the courts should step up to the plate and do so.