Airports have been facing some bizarre scenarios within the last few months. From passengers stripping down naked in public terminals, to pilots having midair meltdowns, air travel has seemed to reach a climactic state. The most recent flight drama comes from a Wichita, Kansas airport where a four year girl was accused of being a “high security threat” and a gun pass-off facilitator.
It all began when Isabella Brademeyer’s family was passing through airline security to head home to Montana after attending a wedding in Kansas. Isabella’s grandmother was the last to pass through the metal detectors and was detained slightly because they had gone off during her scan. Isabella, reacting either to the loud noises she probably didn’t understand, or the fact that maybe she just had the urge to be affectionate in that moment as many four year olds do, ran over to her grandmother and gave her a great big hug. From here on chaos ensued.
The Daily Mail UKreports: “The young girl was immediately detained by security agents, who apparently shouted at her that she would have to be frisked too, and refused to let her mother explain what has happening.”
“Ms Brademeyer wrote: ‘It was implied, several times, that my mother, in their brief two-second embrace, had passed a handgun to my daughter.’”
It has also been reported that an officer threatened to shut down the airport and cancel every single flight if the four year old did not cooperate, claiming that in recent days they had “seen a gun in a teddy bear.” I’m not familiar with the power of a TSA officer, and I was certainly unaware that one had the sole capacity to shut down an entire airport.
The child was also told that if she didn’t stop crying and running away from being frisked, that the entire family would need to leave the airport immediately.
Thankfully for everyone flying out of Wichita that day, “two TSOs called for backup saying, “The suspect is not cooperating.”
A TSA manager then arrived to evaluate the debacle and “decided that the distraught Isabella could be checked alongside her mother, and let the family pass through security at last.”
Isabella was also called forward during a connecting flight in Denver, and the airport employee “looked confused” when they realized the “high security threat” was a tiny four year old girl.
‘I feel compelled to share this story in the hope that no other child will have to share in this experience’ Isabella’s mother, Michelle Brademeyer commented on her Facebook page after explaining the incident to her world of friends.
When approached by the Consumerist the TSA reported that ‘TSA has reviewed the incident and determined that our officers followed proper current screening procedures in conducting a modified pat-down on the child.’
The Daily Mail also noted that, “Last month the agency came in for criticism when a video of a three-year-old boy in wheelchair having a full pat-down and being swabbed for explosives circulated on the internet.”
Now, I frequently fly and so I am willing to put up with the precautions necessary to ensure a safe travel, however, how do we determine when an official crosses the line? Is this a case of a complete power trip by a lower level officer? Or is what happened to Isabella appropriate? Apparently the officers involved where not of the highest status because a manager was called in to evaluate the situation and overruled them. This discussion is especially important because it comes at a time where the public is closely following the caseof a community watch coordinator shooting and killing a young man who “appeared suspicious.” He too called his superiors (the Sanford Police Department), to report what he warranted as potential unlawful behavior.
So the simpler question we can currently address is, who is correct in Isabella’s case? The TSA seems to support the actions of the TSOs, fueling their power even more? Or trying to pacify an embarrassing situation?
To those with children who tend to cry, scream, and give out hugs to relatives, the next time you fly, you may want to up that dose of Benadryl. Drugged and sleeping kids are better than loud “safety hazards.”